The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. He was fond of him in the abstract." Bob was in Donaldson's. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. he was curiously like his brother Joe. This year it should be all right." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. "Hullo. . He was a sound bat. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. The door opened. His figure was thin and wiry. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much." was his reference to the sponge incident." The aspersion stung Marjory. Bob disdained to reply. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. but preferred him at a distance. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. I bet he does. "Anyhow. you little beast." she said. "All right. He was evidently going to be very tall some day." she muttered truculently through it." "We aren't in the same house. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. Marjory gave tongue again." he said. Marjory. and the missing member of the family appeared. who had shown signs of finishing it. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Last year he had been tried once or twice. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail." "Considering there are eight old colours left. Marjory. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. "I bet he gets in before you. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. He might get his third. Mike was her special ally. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. Jackson intervened. That's one comfort." This was mere stereo. "sorry I'm late. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. "Go on with your breakfast."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. if he sweats. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." she said. His third remark was of a practical nature. In face. Mrs. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. anyway." said Bob loftily.

was engaged in putting up the net. the professional. you're going to Wrykyn next term. and every spring since Joe. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama." she said." shouted Marjory. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. obliged with a solo of her own composition. as follows: "Mike Wryky. but the style was there already. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. the eldest of the family." groaned Bob. It was a great moment. with improvements. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus." From Ella. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. like Mike. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. "Mike. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." From Phyllis. Mike Wryky. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. "I say. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. "All the boys were there. somebody. There was nothing the matter with Bob. So was father. aged three. In Bob he would turn out a good. Mike was his special favourite. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. Saunders. Mr. you're going to Wrykyn." he said. suddenly drew a long breath. in six-eight time. Mike looked round the table. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. Saunders. you know. The strength could only come with years. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. "Mike." began Mr. Joe's style. "Mike. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Mike put on his pads. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term." "Oh. But he was not a cricket genius." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. assisted by the gardener's boy." "Is he. what's under that dish?" "Mike."I say. ages ago. "Good. sound article. put a green baize cloth over that kid. Jackson believed in private coaching. Whereat Gladys Maud. Gladys Maud Evangeline.

There's a young gentleman. The whole thing is. Going to a public school." As Saunders had said. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Don't you think he might. every bit. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. I'm not saying it mightn't be. isn't he? He's better than Bob. in a manner of speaking. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. Joe's got. You know these school professionals. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. Saunders?" she asked. I don't. "Next term!" he said. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. it was all there. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. only all I say is don't count on it. It would be a record if he did. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. he was playing more strongly than usual. He's got as much style as Mr. and that's where the runs come in. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. It's quite likely that it will. Saunders. with Master Mike. miss." "But Mike's jolly strong. a sort of pageant. miss. and watched more hopefully. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. Still. To-day. and nineteen perhaps. It's all there. it's this way. miss. "Well. I was only saying don't count on it. That's what he'll be playing for. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. miss. you see. and it stands to reason they're stronger. perhaps. Saunders? He's awfully good. didn't he. miss." "No. What are they like?" "Well." Marjory sat down again beside the net." said the professional. as she returned the ball. Master Mike? Play." "Yes. but I meant next term. you see. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife." "Ah. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. especially at . Ready. too. miss."School team. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste." Saunders looked a little doubtful. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. "He hit that hard enough. we'll hope for the best.

and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. is no great hardship. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. by all accounts. the train drew up at a small station. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. While he was engaged on these reflections. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. Mr. his magazines. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. and now the thing had come about. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. Bob. Meanwhile. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. and Mrs. smiling vaguely. nor profound. was on the verge of the first eleven. frankly bored with the whole business.the beginning of the summer term. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Gladys Maud cried. was to board the train at East Wobsley. Bob.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. but then Bob only recognised one house. though evidently some years older. He was alone in the carriage. Mothers. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. He was excited. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. Phyllis. and his reflections. On the other hand. and carried a small . He wore a bowler hat. The train gathered speed. And as Marjory. It might be true that some day he would play for England. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. Donaldson's. there was Bob. with rather a prominent nose. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. and he was nothing special. in his opinion. According to Bob they had no earthly. The latter were not numerous. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. however. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. in time to come down with a handsome tip). practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. The air was full of last messages. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. He had a sharp face. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. the village idiot.

he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. and at the next stop got out. then. thought Mike. he seemed to carry enough side for three." "Because." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. got up and looked through the open window. stared at Mike again. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. sir. and finally sat down.portmanteau. Besides. Mike acted from the best motives. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property." "Here you are. but. I regret to say. The other made no overtures. the bag had better be returned at once. That explained his magazineless condition. instead. let him ask for it. The fellow had forgotten his bag. and took the seat opposite to Mike. If he wanted a magazine. He realised in an instant what had happened. you know. but. He opened the door." "Thank you. lying snugly in the rack. Judging by appearances. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. sir. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. "Porter. . He did not like the looks of him particularly. after all." "No chance of that. which is always fatal. and wondered if he wanted anything. He seemed about to make some remark. sir. He was only travelling a short way." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. "Good business. Anyhow." said Mike to himself. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. And here. The trainwas already moving quite fast.

Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. and the other jumped into the carriage. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. and said as much. dash it. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." The guard blew his whistle. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. looking out of the window. Then it ceased abruptly." explained Mike. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. "I'm awfully sorry.(Porter Robinson." The situation was becoming difficult. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it." he shouted.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency." said Mike hurriedly. though not intentionally so. or what?" "No." said Mike. . What you want is a frightful kicking. escaped with a flesh wound. you little beast. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him." said the stranger. This was one of them." "It wasn't that. "Hullo." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. It hit a porter. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. who happened to be in the line of fire. "I thought you'd got out there for good. The head was surmounted by a bowler. "Then. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. "Don't _grin_." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. "I chucked it out. Mike grinned at the recollection." Against his will." said Mike. which did not occur for a good many miles. and. "There's nothing to laugh at. "Have you changed carriages. I say. "The fact is.

and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. what happened was this. only he hadn't really. and it's at a station miles back." "Naturally. Lots of things in it I wanted. holidays as well as term. I mean." "You're a bit of a rotter. "I swear. They'll send it on by the next train. are you in Wain's?" he said." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. By the way. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. rather lucky you've met. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow." said Bob. there you are. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. then it's certain to be all right. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's." agreed Firby-Smith. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required."Hullo. "It must be pretty rotten for him. Bob. though not aggressive. He's in your house. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. never mind. They were discussing Wain's now. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. and all that sort of thing. I should rot about like anything. Mike. "Oh. He took up his magazine again. "He and Wain never get on very well. listening the while. "Hullo." "Frightful. It's bound to turn up some time." said Mike. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. and yet they have to be together." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person." "Oh. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled." "Frightful nuisance." "Oh. Good cricketer and footballer. He grinned again. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. all the same. if I were in Wyatt's place. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. it's a bit thick. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt." "I mean. "I've made rather an ass of myself. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. it's all right. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. He realised that school politics were being talked. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. Gazeka?" "Yes." said Bob. "I say. thinking he'd got out. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. It's just the sort . I say.

of life he'll hate most. and it's the only Christian train they run." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed." Mike looked out of the window. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. and tell you all about things. all more or less straight. and lost his way. They'll send your luggage on later. has no perplexities. Hullo. Probably Wain will want to see you. It was Wrykyn at last." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. See you later. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. But here they were alone. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. Mike made for him. Go straight on. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. Plainly a Wrykynian. So long. leaving him to find his way for himself. and a straw hat with a coloured band. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. I think you'd better nip up to the school. here we are. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. Mike started out boldly." Bob looked at Mike. Crossing the square was a short. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train." he concluded airily. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. To the man who knows. . "Any one'll tell you the way to the school." he said." he said. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. which is your dorm. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. it is simplicity itself. Go in which direction he would. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. and so on. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. on alighting. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. and. Silly idea. with a happy inspiration. "Heaps of them must come by this line. a blue blazer. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. Mike. and looked about him.

this is fame. There was something singularly cool and genial about them." "Are you there." he said. A stout fellow. latest model. So you're the newest make of Jackson." said Mike. How did you know my name." said Mike awkwardly. He had a pleasant. And . "Hullo. shuffling." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three." said Mike. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. it was really awfully rotten bowling. You can't quite raise a team. please. He's in Donaldson's. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. square-jawed face. He felt that they saw the humour in things." "I know. There's no close season for me. "How many?" "Seven altogether. you know." said Mike. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. you're going to the school."Can you tell me the way to the school. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "Oh." "Oh." said the other." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. "You look rather lost. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley." added Mike modestly. "Pity. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. then?" asked Mike. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. Any more centuries?" "Yes. you know." said the stranger. "It was only against kids. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. You know. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. are you Wyatt. "That's pretty useful. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. Only a private school.

"Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. I believe. We all have our troubles. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. The next terrace was the biggest of all. I was just going to have some tea. We shall want some batting in the house this term. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. Let's go in here. too." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at." said Mike cautiously. He felt out of the picture." "All the same. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance." said Wyatt. it's jolly big." he said. where. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. Mike followed his finger. the grounds." said Mike. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. You come along. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's." "Oh. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. Everything looked so big--the buildings. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. And my pater always has a pro. everything.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. thanks awfully. "He's all right." said Mike. They skirted the cricket field. a beautiful piece of turf. though no games were played on it. down in the Easter holidays." said Wyatt." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. At the top of the hill came the school. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. I know. but that's his misfortune. cut out of the hill. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps." "Yes. and took in the size of his new home. "I say. which gave me a bit of an advantage. That's his. Look here. He's head of Wain's. At Emsworth. a shade too narrow . "That's Wain's. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. answering for himself.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. at school. He was older than the average new boy. and his conscience smote him. all right. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. but Bob did not know this. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules." "Cake?" "Thanks. to give him good advice. when they met. if only for one performance. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. "Well. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. "Oh. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. "Oh. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. There is nothing more heady than success. As a rule. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. it is apt to throw us off our balance. Beyond asking him occasionally. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. and his batting was undeniable. "Sugar?" asked Bob. how are you getting on?" asked Bob." . please. Mike arrived." said Mike. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike." said Mike. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. Bob was changing into his cricket things. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. Mike had skipped these years. It did not make him conceited. Silence. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. "How many lumps?" "Two. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. "Thanks. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. all right").

" "What do you mean?" said Mike. in the third and so on. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. of course.Silence. "He said he'd look after you. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." added Bob. Mike. I should take care what . filled his cup. Only you see what I mean. and spoke crushingly. thanks. "Look here. "You've been all right up to now. "It's only this. Look after him! Him!! M. I'm not saying anything against you so far. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. Bob pulled himself together. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. "What!" said Mike. "Oh. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. "Like him?" "Yes." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "I can look after myself all right. while Bob." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading." he said." said Bob. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. making things worse. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. outraged." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you." said Bob. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Mike." he said at length. you've got on so well at cricket." he said. "He needn't trouble." said Bob. Jackson. "Yes. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. I'm not saying a word against you so far. What I mean to say is. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. You know. "You know." said Mike cautiously. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. if you don't watch yourself.

"Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. I wanted to see you. That youth. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. if you want any more tea." "What do you mean?" "Well. But don't you go doing it. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after.") "Come up to my study. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. "I promised I would. Don't cheek your . I mean. He doesn't care a hang what he does. he's an awfully good chap. "All right. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. Don't make a frightful row in the house. He's that sort of're doing with Wyatt. You'd better be going and changing. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later." he said. He felt very sore against Bob. young man. A good innings at the third eleven net. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. (Mike disliked being called "young man. Stick on here a bit. "What rot!" said Mike." said the Gazeka. I've got to be off myself. though. met Mike at the door of Wain's. "Ah. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. but still----" "Still what?" "Well." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. I'm going over to the nets. But don't let him drag you into anything. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. Not that he would try to. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith." Mike followed him in silence to his study." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. because he's leaving at the end of the term. it doesn't matter much for him. spoke again." Mike shuffled. Thing is. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. of course. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. "I've been hearing all about you. He's never been dropped on yet. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. so said nothing. all spectacles and front teeth. young man.

not with shame and remorse. but he had never felt wider awake. he walked out of the room. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. Cut along. He would have given much to be with him. by a slight sound. you stay where you are. as I'm morally certain to be some day. too. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. So long. Specially as there's a good moon. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. Like Eric. increased. He opened his eyes. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. but it was not so easy to do it. Mustn't miss a chance like this. "When I'm caught. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. You'll find that useful when the time comes. It was a lovely night. "No. Overcoming this feeling." he said. wriggled out." "I say. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. just the sort of night on which. you can't. That's all. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. would just have suited Mike's mood. He got out of bed and went to the window. "Hullo." "Are you going out?" "I am." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. I shall be deadly. The room was almost light. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. and up to his dormitory to change." said Wyatt. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. and the second time he gave up the struggle. He sat up in bed. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling." said Wyatt. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. and hitting it into space every time." And Wyatt. with or without an air-pistol. "Is that you. of wanting to do something actively illegal. but with rage and all that sort of thing. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. he burned. or night rather. if he had been at home. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. but he . Wash. Anyhow.elders and betters.

he proceeded to look about him. All thought of risk left him. Mr.realised that he was on parole. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. wound the machine up. To make himself more secure he locked that door. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. Field actually did so. After which. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden." And. He had promised not to leave the house. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. feeling a new man. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. It was quite late now. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. along the passage to the left. the other into the boys' section. He was not alarmed. very loud and nasal. The next moment. Food. he examined the room. As it swished into the glass. It would be quite safe. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. as indeed he was. one leading into Wain's part of the house. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. after a few preliminary chords. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. and there was an end of it. feeling that he was doing himself well. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box.. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. then. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. And this was where the trouble began. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. He finished it. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. Everybody would be in bed. The soda-water may have got into his head. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. He took some more biscuits. Mike recognised it as Mr. perhaps. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. and an apple. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . He had been long enough in the house to know the way. Down the stairs. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. There were the remains of supper on the table. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. _". in spite of the fact that all was darkness. and set it going. Mr."_ Mike stood and drained it in.. This was Life. Then a beautiful. turning up the incandescent light. A voice accompanied the banging. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. consoling thought came to him. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. Field). a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Wain's.

the kernel of the whole thing. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. The handle-rattling was resumed. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. "He'd clear out. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. he opened the window. He jumped out of bed. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. was that he must get into the garden somehow." The answer was simple. If. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. Wain. J. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. he must keep Mr. "Now what. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. on entering the room. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors." pondered Mike. suspicion would be diverted. "would A. The main point. and found that they were after him. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. that if Mr. He stopped the gramophone. on the other hand. Two minutes later he was in bed. and dashed down the dark stairs. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. Then he began to be equal to it. and warn Wyatt. He lay there. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. Evidently his . So long as the frontal attack was kept up. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. just in time. but he must not overdo the thing. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. It had occurred to him. and he sat up. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. and he'd locked one door. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. And at the same time. breathless. It was open now. and could get away by the other. This was good. the most exciting episode of his life." thought Mike. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. Wain from coming to the dormitory. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. to date. His position was impregnable.need to be alarmed. and get caught. though it was not likely. and reflected. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels.

"Of course not. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. He looked about him. catching sight of the gramophone." . All this is very unsettling. Wain hurriedly. He spun round at the knock." "Looks like it. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. Mike." said Mike. sir. sir." If it was Mr. Mr. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. sir. looking out. thin man. Mr." said Mr. sir. "Of course not. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. and. "Thought I heard a noise. sir!" said Mike." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. please. in spite of his anxiety.retreat had been made just in time. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. a row. He looked like some weird bird. I thought I heard a noise. and went in. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. "Please. could barely check a laugh. drew inspiration from it. Wain was a tall. sir. Wain." said Mike. Wain was standing at the window. I don't know why I asked. please. Wain continued to stare. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. "_Me_. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. He knocked at the door. sir." "A noise?" "Please. Mr. He wore spectacles. sir. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. Jackson." "I found the window open." "A noise?" "A row. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. "So I came down. of course not. His hair was ruffled.

" said Wyatt." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool." "Perhaps you are right. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. eliciting sharp howls of pain. such an ass. Jackson." cried Mike. I know. "Is that you. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. I mean. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. Mike stopped. The moon had gone behind the clouds. "He might be still in the house. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. as who should say. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. "Who on earth's that?" it said. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. sir." Mr. He ran to the window. Wain looked at the shrubbery. you might . ruminatively. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. An inarticulate protest from Mr. sir. then tore for the regions at the back. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. sir. Wain. There might be a bit of a row on his return. sir. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. He felt that all was well. His knees were covered with mould. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked." "Yes. _"Et tu." Mr. Wain." said Mr."He's probably in the garden. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. "Not likely. "You young ass. sir. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window.

Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. come in. you see. Wain. but you don't understand. You must tread like a policeman. sir. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily." "That's not a bad idea. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course." he said." Mike clambered through the window." "Undoubtedly.' Ripping it was. "But how the dickens did he hear you. You have been seriously injured. It was very wrong of you to search for least have the sense to walk quietly." "It wasn't that." Mr. till Wain came along." "Yes. so excited." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. I'll get back. Have you no sense. Come in at once. standing outside with his hands on the sill. All right. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. "You have no business to be excited. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. He must have got out of the garden. I suppose. It is exceedingly impertinent of you." said Mike." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. it was rather a rotten thing to do. sir. "Undoubtedly so. you might come down too. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. You dash along then. The thing was. Wain was still in the dining-room. You will do me two hundred lines. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. Well. "It's miles from his bedroom. "I couldn't find him. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. Exceedingly so" ." "Please. Exceedingly so. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. Latin and English. Or. sir. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. I will not have it. "You're a genius. "I never saw such a man." said Mr. if you like. I will not have it. and I'll go back to the dining-room. but I turned on the gramophone.

You hear me. sir.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room." he said." said Mike. Wain "father" in private. "sir" in public. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. Mr. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. watching some one else work. . the other outside. sir?" said Wyatt. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. Clowes was on the window-sill. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. preparatory to going on the river. "We might catch him. Wain into active eruption once more. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. At least Trevor was in the study. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. In these circumstances. Inordinately so. James. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. "Stay where you are. And." he said. It is preposterous. "I thought I heard a noise. getting tea ready. He loved to sit in this attitude. you will both be punished with extreme severity." said Mike. Both of you go to bed immediately. one leg in the room. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. James--and you. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. hanging over space." he said excitedly. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. Jackson? James." They made it so." "Shall I go out into the garden. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. I must be obeyed instantly. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. He yawned before he spoke. "I was under the impression." "But the burglar. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. He called Mr. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. sir. you understand me? To bed at once. "Under no circumstances whatever. of Donaldson's. and have a look round. "only he has got away. The question stung Mr. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said.

" said Trevor. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. as our old pal Nero used to remark.' At least. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. where is he? Among the also-rans. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. 'One Clowes is luxury. Clowes was tall. Aged fifteen." "See it done. I did not. That's a thing you couldn't do. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. I lodged a protest." "My mind at the moment." "Marlborough. Like the heroes of the school stories.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. I said. I often say to people. Couple of years younger than me. Trevor." "Silly ass. "All right. I'm thinking of Life. you'd have let your people send him here." breathed Trevor. two excess. laddie." "That shows your sense. "One for the pot. and very much in earnest over all that he did." "My lad. Tigellinus. My people wanted to send him here. I suppose it's fun to him. but can't think of Life." said Trevor. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. Trevor was shorter. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. I have a brother myself." "You aren't doing a stroke.' I say." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. which he was not. "Come and help. Better order it to-day.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. But when it comes to deep thought. Did I want them spread about the school? No. Consider it unsaid." said Clowes. I mean. Cheek's what I call it. you slacker. Not a bad chap in his way. and looked sad. 'and he's all right.'" "You were right there. packing . I should think. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. Where is he? Your brother. Trevor?" "One. we see my brother two terms ago." "Too busy. If you'd been a silly ass.' That's what I say. Have you got any brothers. Hence. I say. slicing bread. "I said. 'Good chap. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Trevor." said Clowes.

I suppose." "Jackson's all right. he is. At the end of that period. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. naturally. as I said. What's wrong with him? Besides. but. who looks on him as no sportsman. however. In other words. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. Bob seems to be trying the first way. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. which is what I should do myself. courted by boys. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. fawned upon by masters." "Well?" "Look here. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot.up his little box. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. the term's only just started. It's just the one used by chaps' people. At present. And here am I at Wrykyn. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. But the term's hardly started yet. Now. revered by all who don't. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. If I frown----" "Oh. come on. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. and he's very decent." "Why?" "Well. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. It's all right." said Trevor. For once in your life you've touched the spot. loved by all who know me. so he broods over him like a policeman. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. perhaps. too." "What's up? Does he rag?" . he returned to his subject. with an unstained reputation. It may be all right after they're left." "What a rotten argument. You say Jackson's all right. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. so far." "That's just it. "Mr. My heart bleeds for Bob. We were on the subject of brothers at school. and tooling off to Rugby. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. It's the masters you've got to consider. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble." "Young Jackson seems all right. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. but while they're there. which he might easily do. it's the limit." he said. considering his cricket. I've talked to him several times at the nets.

Still." "Yes." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. walking back to the house." "The Gazeka is a fool. It's nothing to do with us." "I know. He's head of Wain's. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days." "If you must tell anybody." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. Let's stagger out. and. He's asking for trouble. Besides." "He never seems to be in extra. . that he'll be roped into it too. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river." "All front teeth and side. if Jackson's so thick with him. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. and which is bound to make rows between them. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. And if you're caught at that game. anyhow. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. it's the boot every time. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. and does them. unless he leaves before it comes off. too. every other night. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row." "I don't know. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. which he hasn't time for. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. For instance. You'd only make him do the policeman business. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. Better leave him alone. he's on the spot. One always sees him about on half-holidays. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. The odds are."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. Well. however. But what's the good of worrying." Trevor looked disturbed. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. tell the Gazeka. I shouldn't think so.

If Wyatt likes to risk it." he said. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." "Not a bit. Are you busy?" "No. Well?" "About your brother." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. but." "Oh. oiling a bat. by Jove. I spoke to him about it." "I should. then." said Bob." "Oh." "I've done that. J. He'd have more chance. I say. you know." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. I think. bewildered." "Oh. "look here. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. It's his last. That's his look out. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Why?" "It's this way. Rather rot. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. all right. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." "I know. sitting up." "That's all right then. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. "I say. "That reminds me. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. Bob. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." "Don't blame him. I forgot to get the evening paper. "My brother. I think I'll speak to him again. I hear. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. that I know of. you did? That's all right. I didn't mean that brother." . What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would." "Nor do I. though.He found him in his study." "I should get blamed. I meant the one here. W. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. being in the same house. Smith said he'd speak to him.

W. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. I suppose he'll get his first next year." "Hope so. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. though. to coach you in the holidays. Better than J. when they meet. I asked him what he thought of me. I expect. and Bob." "Yes. when suddenly there is a hush. I simply couldn't do a thing then. . in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. I was away a lot. But Mike fairly lived inside the net." "Saunders.' There's a subtle difference. Nearly all the first are leaving. But my last three innings have been 33 not out." "Sort of infant prodigy. it's not been chucked away. I didn't go to him much this last time. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day." "Well. Pretty good for his first term. started on his Thucydides. he thinks. Some trivial episode occurs. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. You have a pro. even. It is just the same with a row.W. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. for years. Mr. and he said. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days." "Better than at the beginning of the term." said Trevor. don't you?" "Yes. at home.s. The next moment the thing has begun. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. Henfrey'll be captain. anyhow. "I thought I heard it go. And." He went back to his study. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. and had beaten them. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. the pro. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. and you are standing in a shower-bath. Bob. and there falls on you from space one big drop. 18. You were rather in form. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. and 51. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet.

these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. and Spence). I believe he's rather sick about it. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. songs. and I got bowled). B. Rather decent. They stop the cricket on O. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately.--Thanks awfully for your letter. "P. The banquet. Rot I call it. He was in it all right. only I'd rather it was five bob. He's Wain's step-son. only they bar one another) told me about it. and there was rather a row. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G.--Half-a-crown would do. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. and 30 in a form match. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. because they won the toss and made 215. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket.S. Love to everybody. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two." And. Jones. together with the school choir. so I played. Rather rot.W. I hope you are quite well. lasted. Still. I wasn't in it. lengthened by speeches.W. Bob played for the first. "Your loving son. could you? I'm rather broke. On the Monday they were public property.S.--I say. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. Low down. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. He was run out after he'd got ten. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches.W. so we stop from lunch to four. as a . There's a dinner after the matches on O. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. on the back of the envelope. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. So I didn't go in. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. "MIKE. and half the chaps are acting. the Surrey man. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob.P.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. The thing had happened after this fashion. "P. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. but didn't do much. I had to dive for it. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. day. I may get another shot. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. I didn't do much. only I don't quite know where he comes in. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. because I didn't get an innings.

and that the criticisms were. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. When. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. as usual. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. essentially candid and personal. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. the town. About midway between Wrykyn. Words can be overlooked. But there were others. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. This was the official programme. show a tendency to dwindle. The school was always anxious for a row. one's views are apt to alter. brainless. the town. and. all might yet have been peace. accordingly. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. and Wrykyn. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. in the midst of their festivities. Possibly. for the honour of the school. which they used. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. as a rule. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. and then race back to their houses. it was not considered worth it. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. It was the custom. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees.rule. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. and turn in. But tomatoes cannot. till about ten o'clock. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. . dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. In the present crisis. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. Wrykyn." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. the school. rural type of hooliganism. therefore. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. As a rule. Risks which before supper seemed great. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. and had been the custom for generations back. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. and the authorities.

He very seldom lost his temper. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. when a new voice made itself heard. for they suddenly gave the fight up. and then kicks your shins. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. "Now then. and stampeded as one man. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring." he said." it said. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. at any rate at first. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern." he said quietly. Barely a dozen remained. But. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. it was no time for science.There was a moment of suspense. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. It struck Wyatt. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. but two remained. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. panting. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. Wyatt. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. It raged up and down the road without a pause. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. "Let's chuck 'em in there. The science was on the side of the school. By the side of the road at this point was a green. The leaders were beyond recall. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. . depressed looking pond. of whose presence you had no idea. now splitting up into little groups. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. now in a solid mass. A move was made towards the pond. except the prisoners. while some dear friend of his. Gloomy in the daytime. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. and the procession had halted on the brink. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. it looked unspeakable at night. They were smarting under a sense of injury. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners.

scrambled out. That's what we are. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. Constable Butt. with a change in his voice. He ploughed his way to the bank. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner."What's all this?" "It's all right. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. sprang forward. whoever you are. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A howl from the townee. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. The prisoner did. a yell from the policeman. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. and suspecting impudence by instinct. and vanished. a lark's a lark." said Wyatt. "All right. going in second. you chaps. you chaps." "Stop!" From Mr. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. "You run along on your beat. are they? Come now." "It's anything but a lark." "Ho!" said the policeman. Butt." "I don't want none of your lip. Butt. Mr." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. The policeman realised his peril too late. or you'll go typhoid. Don't swallow more than you can help. I expect there are leeches and things there. This isn't a lark. "Make 'em leave hold of us. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. a cheer from the launching party. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. but you ought to know where to stop. He'll have churned up a bit. Butt. You can't do anything here. and a splash compared with which ." said Wyatt. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke." said Mr. young gentleman." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. "Ho. Carry on. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. it's an execution. understanding but dimly. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "This is quite a private matter. and seized the captive by the arm.

" "Threw you in!" "Yes. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. but both comparisons may stand. sir. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. Yes. having prudently changed his clothes. sir. went to look for the thrower. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond.the first had been as nothing. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. and all was over." as they say in the courts of law. Following the chain of events. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. The imagination of the force is proverbial. "Threw me in. Butt. Wyatt. The tomato hit Wyatt. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. Police Constable Alfred Butt. Butt. Butt gave free rein to it. "Really. really!" said the headmaster. Mr. before any one can realise what is happening. It was no occasion for light apologies. Butt fierce and revengeful. with a certain sad relish. _Plop_!" said Mr. "Do you know. and "with them. and the interested neighbours are following their example. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. sir. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. they did. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. Mr." said Wyatt. calling upon the headmaster. sheets of fire are racing over the country. I shall--certainly----" . and. but in the present case. we find Mr. it has become world-famous. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. and throws away the match. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. with others.

They actually seized you." concluded Mr. I will look into the matter at once. sir. He . Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. "Couple of 'undred. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred." "I have never heard of such a thing. sir. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. again with the confidential air. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. 'Wot's this all about." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir. sir." he added.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. sir.' And. Wringin' wet.' And. I can hardly believe that it is possible. I wonder?' I says. sir. according to discretion. As it was." "Good-night." "Yes. and I couldn't see not to say properly. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. and I thought I heard a disturbance.' I says." "H'm--Well. I says to myself. Good-night. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. Had he been a motorist. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. Mr." "Yes--Thank you. constable. Butt started it again. ''Allo. sir!" said the policeman. sir. 'a frakkus. sir! Mrs. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. Butt promptly. beginning to suspect something. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. right from the beginning. She says to me. They shall be punished." "Yes. with the air of one confiding a secret. sir.' I says. "How many boys were there?" he asked. Butt. 'Why." said Mr. sir. "I _was_ wet. too. and fighting. Lots of them all gathered together. "I was on my beat.

There is every probability--in fact. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. "There'll be a frightful row about it. become public property. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. right in it after all. about a week before the pond episode. They were not malicious. however. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. . blank.. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. as a whole. and in private at that. which at one time had looked like being fatal. It must always. It could not understand it. When condensed. The school was thunderstruck.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. expend itself in words. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. and finally become a mere vague memory. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. The blow had fallen. As it was. always ready to stop work. he got the impression that the school.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. The pond affair had. he would have asked for their names. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. Only two days before the O. A public school has no Hyde Park. it is certain--that. but for one malcontent. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. It happened that. And here they were. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. which was followed throughout the kingdom. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. and the school. was culpable." they had said. and not of only one or two individuals. though not always in those words. It was one vast.W.. or nearly always. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. astounded "Here. I say!" Everybody was saying it.. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. of course.

He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. a day-boy.The malcontent was Wyatt. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. their ironbound conservatism. He added that something ought to be done about it. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. "Well. as a whole. and he was full of it. I'm not going to. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. a daring sort of person. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. and." "Why not?" said Wyatt. even though he may not approve of it. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. and that it was a beastly shame. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. Before he came to Wyatt. intense respect for order and authority. that it was all rot. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. and scenting sarcasm. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. Leaders of men are rare. Wyatt was unmoved." "All right. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." "You're rotting. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. on the whole. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons." ." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. It requires genius to sway a school. and probably considered himself. He said it was a swindle. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing.

I believe." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." said Neville-Smith after a pause. Groups kept forming in corners apart. I say." "All right. they couldn't do much. If the whole school took Friday off." said Wyatt. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. "Do." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. and let you know."No. ragging barred. "It would be a bit of a rag. but. what a score. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC ." "By Jove." "I could get quite a lot. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. I should be glad of a little company. They couldn't sack the whole school. Wyatt whistling. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." "That would be a start. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. excited way. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. Are you just going to cut off." "I say. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." "You'll get sacked." Another pause." "I suppose so." "Not bad. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. "I say.

like the gravel. and at three minutes to nine. "I say. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms." "So should I. whose homes were farther away.W." . It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. it's just striking. came on bicycles. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers." "Somebody would have turned up by now. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. saying it was on again all right. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. Some one might have let us know. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick." said Brown.'s day row. I say. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. A few. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. to Brown. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. "It's jolly rum. the only other occupant of the form-room. Why. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays." "So do I. trying to get in in time to answer their names. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. The majority of these lived in the town." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment." said Willoughby. rather to the scandal of the authorities. were empty. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. of the Lower Fifth.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. what a swindle if he did. I can't make it out. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. and walked to school. I should have got up an hour later. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. The form-rooms. though unable to interfere. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. who. however. but it had its leaven of day-boys. as a general rule.

Seeing the obvious void. Spence told himself. and the notice was not brought to me. sir." Mr. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. sir." "I've heard nothing about it. if the holiday had been put on again. Mr. Brown. Spence pondered." "None of the boarders?" "No. as was his habit. Spence?" Mr. Spence." he said. here _is_ somebody. Perhaps. we don't know. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. sir. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room."Hullo. . as he walked to the Common Room. A brisk conversation was going on." Mr. He was not a house-master. Spence seated himself on the table. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows." It was the master of the Lower Fifth." "This is extraordinary. "Well." "We were just wondering. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir. sir. after all." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. "Willoughby. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. as you say. Several voices hailed Mr. Spence. sir. and looked puzzled. We were just wondering. "Hullo. sir. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. and a few more were standing. The usual lot who come on bikes. And they were all very puzzled. Spence as he entered. Not a single one. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. He walked briskly into the room. he stopped in his stride." "Yes. there is a holiday to-day.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. singing the school song. And two days later. And the army lunched sumptuously. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. * * * * * At the school. each house claiming its representatives. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. it melted away little by little. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. fortunately. In the early afternoon they rested. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. the march home was started. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. jam. At the school gates only a handful were left. with comments and elaborations. They looked weary but cheerful." said Wyatt. . Wyatt. In addition. Other inns were called upon for help. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. It was not a market-day. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. "Anything I can do for you. As the army drew near to the school." the leading inn of the town. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. and as evening began to fall. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. Private citizens rallied round with bread. He always told that as his best story." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. "Yes. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. please. At Worfield the expedition lunched. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet.his paper. net practice was just coming to an end when. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. and apples. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. and he always ended with the words." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. as generalissimo of the expedition." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. faintly.

and gazed at him. "this is all right. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. I thought he would. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters." he chuckled. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. "My dear chap. met Wyatt at the gate." He then gave the nod of dismissal. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. indeed." Wyatt was damping. were openly exulting. isn't it! He's funked it. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts.Bob Jackson. walking back to Donaldson's. The less astute of the picnickers. "I say." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. marvelling. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais." said Wyatt. "Hullo. Now for it. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. It hasn't started yet. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. But it came all . baffled by the magnitude of the thing. they didn't send in the bill right away. The school streamed downstairs. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. Finds the job too big to tackle." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. thought the school. speechless. There was." he said. This was the announcement.

" . Rather a good thing. the school sergeant." it began. He lowers all records. It left out little. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. as he read the huge scroll. I never saw such a man. then?" "Rather." Wyatt was right. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. They surged round it." "Sting?" "Should think it did. "By Gad. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." "Thanks." Wyatt roared with laughter. I notice. The headmaster had acted. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. I was one of the first to get it. "he is an old sportsman." "Do you think he's going to do something. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. To-day." he said. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off." said Clowes.right. and post them outside the school shop." "Glad you think it funny. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. Only the bigger fellows. I'm glad you got off." said Mike. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. Buns were forgotten. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. It was a comprehensive document. who was walking a little stiffly." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. "What!" "Yes. You wait. as they went back to the house. "I don't know what you call getting off. He was quite fresh. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. This bloated document was the extra lesson list." said Mike ruefully. "None of the kids are in it.

" "I should be awfully sick. Let's see.C. Any more? No. match. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. "Or. I don't blame him either. "All right. But there'll be several vacancies. "it's awfully decent of you. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. Don't break down. what rot!" "It is. Fielding especially. Still. Ashe. you're better off than I am. one of the places. so you're all right. Anyhow. like everybody else. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me." "I say." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. He had his day-dreams. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over." said Mike."Well. it isn't you.C. "I'm not rotting." continued Wyatt. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. Wyatt. by Jove! I forgot. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M." * * * * * Billy Burgess. was a genial giant. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. if it were me. if his fielding was something extra special. rather." "I say. making a century in record time). that's the lot. I thought you weren't. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. really. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. whatever his batting was like. That's next Wednesday." said Mike indignantly. Adams." "An extra's nothing much. do you?" said Mike awkwardly." "Oh. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra." "Well." said Mike uncomfortably." "You needn't rot. incidentally." "I'm not breaking down. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. So you field like a demon this afternoon. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot." "You don't think there's any chance of it. I should think they'd give you a chance." said Wyatt seriously." said Mike. Me. rather. overcome. Probably Druce. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. captain of Wrykyn cricket. The present was one of the rare . buck up. especially as he's a bowler himself. You'll probably get my place in the team. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and.

" "Old Bob can't field for toffee. like the soldier in Shakespeare.C. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. shortly before lock-up. and let's be friends. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute.C. give me a kiss. Besides. full of strange oaths. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. Then he returned to the attack. jumping at his opportunity.C. That's your trouble." "You haven't got a mind. "He's as good a bat as his brother.. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. For a hundred and three." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. And I'd jump on the sack first. as Wyatt appeared." "Rot. I was on the spot. and drop you into the river.C. he isn't small. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked. There it is in the corner. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. match went clean out of my mind." "I suppose he is." "Why don't you play him against the M." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man." grumbled Burgess. Bill. "The fact is. in the excitement of the moment the M. Dash. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer." "Right ho!. Wyatt found him in his study. I will say that for him. "Come on.. That kid's good. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. I've dropped my stud. "Eight. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. and a better field. He's as tall as I am." said Wyatt. "I'm awfully sorry.

there is a curious. Give him a shot. He read it. Everything seems hushed and expectant. Better stick to the men at the top of the second." said Wyatt. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. then. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England.C.C. CHAPTER XIII THE M. it's a bit risky.C. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." Wyatt stopped for breath. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. So long." "Good. bottom but one. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M." Wyatt got up. and you rave about top men in the second. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. better . "All right. "You rotter. The bell went ages ago.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. His own name. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for." said Burgess. I shall be locked out." he said. "Just give him a trial. Jackson. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent." "You play him. poor kids. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. even Joe. how you 'discovered' M. chaps who play forward at everything. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. For. "You know." Burgess hesitated. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. Burgess. B.C. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. and his heart missed a beat. at Lord's. gassing to your grandchildren." said Wyatt." he said. Wyatt. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. "I'll think it over. wouldn't you? Very well. That kid's a genius at cricket. "Think it over. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. just above the W.

"Got all the strokes. and quite suddenly." "Of course. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment.C." said Saunders. Three chaps are in extra. Master Mike. Hullo. He stopped short. sir." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. and stopped dead. Master Mike." "Well. you know. I'm hanged! Young marvel. "Isn't it ripping.after lunch. "Why." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. Only wants the strength. to wait. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. and then they'll have to put you in. the lost. and I got one of the places. saw him. as Saunders had done. He could almost have cried with pure fright. "Why. Master Joe. Saunders?" "He is. you'll make a hundred to-day." said Saunders. here he is. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily." he chuckled. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. I'm only playing as a sub. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the ." he said. Mike walked across from Wain's.. when the strangeness has worn off. I always said it. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. team came down the steps. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. so that they could walk over together. hopeless feeling left Mike. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman." "Well. "By Jove. Saunders!" cried Mike. where he had changed. feeling quite hollow. sir.C. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. isn't he. "Didn't I always say it.

One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. still taking risks. For himself. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. team. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. but he is." "I _have_ won the toss. Burgess was glad as a private individual. and hoping that nothing would come his way. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. As a captain. who grinned bashfully. getting in front of his wicket. tried to late-cut a rising ball. dropped it." "This is our star. and was l.C. At twenty. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. The beginning of the game was quiet. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. "Aged ten last birthday. Joe began to open his shoulders. was feeling just the same. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. and playing for the school. not to mention the other first-class men. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success.M. aren't you. Bob.C. missed it. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. just when things seemed most hopeless. as usual.C. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. You wait till he gets at us to-day.C. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. but he contrived to chop it away. It was the easiest of slip-catches. It was a moment too painful for words. relief came. The wicket was hard and true. but Bob fumbled it. exhibiting Mike. conscious of being an uncertain field." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. Saunders is our only bowler. for Joe. And. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so." said the other with dignity. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. sorry as a captain. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first.b. "I never saw such a family. The Authentic. . Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. and the pair gradually settled down. The M. On the other hand. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. almost held it a second time.w. You are only ten.

After this. but exceedingly hard to shift. things settled down. invincible. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. a little on the slow side. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. against Ripton. "Better have a go for them. Burgess." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . the end was very near. there was scarcely time. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. Following out this courageous advice. was a thoroughly sound bat. but wickets fell at intervals. "Lobs. Then came lunch." he said to Berridge and Marsh. the first-wicket man. Two hundred went up. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. as usual.C. Morris. A comfortable. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. Then Joe reached his century. "By Jove. however. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. Joe was still in at one end. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. was stumped half-way through the third. Berridge. The hundred went up at five o'clock. was optimistic. Unfortunately. coming in last. and two hundred and fifty. and was stumped next ball. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in.C. on the present occasion. Both batsmen were completely at home. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. and was then caught by Mike. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. third-change bowlers had been put on. hit two boundaries. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three.C. the school first pair. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Some years before. I wish I was in. the hundred and fifty at half-past. Runs came with fair regularity. Four after four. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen." said Burgess. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. total over the three hundred. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. His second hit had just lifted the M.C. all round the wicket. A hundred an hour is quick work. Saunders. to make the runs.The school revived. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. and the M.

Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. And that was the end of Marsh. Mike drew courage from his attitude. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. seemed to give Morris no trouble. three of them victims to the lobs. Bob Jackson went in next. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. because they had earned it. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. It was his turn next. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. and get the thing over. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. all through gentle taps along the ground. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment." All!. "That's all you've got to do. He knew his teeth were chattering. No good trying for the runs now. but they were distinctly envious. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. It was the same story to-day. Twenty runs were added. and Morris. At last he arrived. and Mike. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. fumbling at a glove. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. Morris was still in at one end. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. As a matter of fact. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. tottered out into the sunshine. The long stand was followed. and a thin. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. The first over yielded six runs. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. He wished he could stop them. Bob." he added to Mike. Lobs are the most dangerous. . At the wickets. The bowler smiled sadly.. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty.. by a series of disasters. and hit the wicket. Stick in." said Burgess. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. five wickets were down. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. Saunders. he felt better. For a time things went well. as usual. In the second. insinuating things in the world. He had refused to be tempted. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. as if he hated to have to do these things. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. "and it's ten past six. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. He was jogging on steadily to his century. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work.

with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home." said the umpire. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. On the other hand. Burgess continued to hit. Saunders was beginning his run. Even the departure of Morris. Burgess came in. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. just the right distance away from the off-stump. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. It was a half-volley. Half-past six chimed. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. The next moment the dreams had come true. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl." said a voice. sometimes a cut. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. Mike grinned. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. did not disturb him. and. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. . The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. he failed signally... Mike would have liked to have run two. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. skips and the jump. Sometimes a drive.." It was Joe. Saunders was a conscientious man. Now. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. There was only Reeves to follow him. but he himself must simply stay in. "Play straight. wryly but gratefully. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. If so. and invariably hit a boundary. and bowled. besides being conscientious. All nervousness had left him. moment Mike felt himself again. the school was shouting." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. "To leg. The bowling became a shade loose. but always a boundary. doubtless. and you can't get out. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. The moment had come. "Don't be in a funk. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. and Saunders. which he hit to the terrace bank. He felt equal to the situation. sir. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. was undoubtedly kind-hearted.

As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. Number two: yorker. But it was all that he expected. Five: another yorker. Unfortunately for him. and missed the wicket by an inch. who had played twice for the first eleven. and mid-off. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. of the School House. Joe. to Burgess after the match. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper.C. at the last ball. as many a good man had done before him. That meant. almost at a venture. and Mike got his place in the next match. however gentlemanly. "I told you so. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank.The lob bowler had taken himself off. dropped down into the second. "You are a promising man." said Burgess." said the wicket-keeper." Mike was a certainty now for the second. and we have our eye on you. fast left-hand. First one was given one's third eleven cap." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. naturally. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. Down on it again in the old familiar way. "I'm sorry about your nose. against the Gentlemen of the County. jumping. "He's not bad. as has been pointed out. this may not seem an excessive reward. "nothing." Then came the second colours." said Wyatt. at any rate as far ." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. match. just failed to reach it. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. "I'll give him another shot. here you are. He hit out.C. All was well. You won't get any higher." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. were not brilliant cricketers. the visiting team. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. Mike played it back to the bowler. They might mean anything from "Well. * * * * * So Wilkins. so you may as well have the thing now. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. Mike let it alone. It hummed over his head. Four: beat him." But Burgess.

but Firby-Smith. did better in this match. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. as the star. not out. and he and Wyatt went in first. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. made a fuss. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all.C. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. "Well. Raikes possessed few subtleties." Mike departed. Ellerby. with Raikes. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. having the most tender affection for his dignity. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. supported by some small bowling was concerned. mind you don't go getting swelled head. For some ten minutes all was peace. was captain of the side. and Berridge." he shouted.C. It happened in this way. and. as is not uncommon with the prosperous." he said. and was then caught at cover. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. went in first. . Bob. See? That's all. The following. to the detriment of Mike's character. Run along. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. bursting with fury. he waxed fat and kicked. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. as head of the house. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. The Gazeka. "Come on. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. when the Gazeka. He had made seventeen. He was enjoying life amazingly. House matches had begun. making twenty-five. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. _verbatim_. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. Then Wain's opened their innings. and Marsh all passing the half-century. prancing down the pitch. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. who had the bowling. match. Mike pounded it vigorously. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. eh? Well. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. of the third eleven. and was thoroughly set. The school won the toss. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. Mike went in first wicket. hit one in the direction of cover-point. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. Morris making another placid century. this score did not show up excessively.

"Rather a large order. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. a man of simple speech. you grinning ape!" he cried. "You know young Jackson in our house. "Don't _laugh_. thought Firby-Smith. avoided him. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. And only a prefects' meeting. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. At close of play he sought Burgess. besides being captain of the eleven. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. feeling now a little apprehensive." Burgess looked incredulous. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. Firby-Smith did not grovel." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_.Mike. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. Burgess. and lick him. "It isn't funny. These are solemn moments. "What's up?" said Burgess. Burgess. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. Firby-Smith arrived. "Easy run there. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon." he said. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. shouting "Run!" and. And Mike. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth." . cover having thrown the ball in. The world swam before Mike's eyes. "I want to speak to you. a prefects' meeting." he said. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. was also head of the school. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity." he said reprovingly. chewing the insult. he was also sensitive on the subject. miss it. you know.

"Well. It was only fair that Bob should be told.C."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. match. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Bob occurred to him. the results of the last few matches. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. Here was he. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. look here. but he thought the thing over. anyhow. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be." "Oh. . In the second place. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. "Yes. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. therefore. Still. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details." he said meditatively. Besides. I mean--A prefects' meeting." And the matter was left temporarily at that. And here was another grievance against fate. Geddington. and let you know to-morrow. Burgess started to laugh." "He's frightfully conceited. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. I'll think it over. and particularly the M. he's a decent kid. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. with the air of one uttering an epigram." said Firby-Smith. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. It became necessary. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then.C. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. but turned the laugh into a cough. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. On the other hand. "Rather thick. Bob was one of his best friends. were strong this year at batting. well--Well. as the nearest of kin. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. In the first place.

Have some?" "No. At batting there was not much to choose between the two." he said. "Still. the man. "Busy. It's rather hard to see what to do. "Still----" "I know. "Take a pew. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. Bob. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. but he _is_ an ass. and Neville-Smith. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. took his place. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather." ." "Well. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. the captain." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. you can." continued Burgess gloomily. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened." "I suppose so. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous." "It's awfully awkward. one's bound to support him. I want to see you. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. I say. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk." he added. "Silly young idiot.' Billy. can't you? This is me." said Bob. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. I sympathise with the kid. thanks. "Personally. sitting over here.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. You know how to put a thing nicely. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. Bob was bad. Bob?" he asked. He came to me frothing with rage. look here. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. "Hullo. So out Bob had gone. The tall. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. but in fielding there was a great deal. you know. dark. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. "Sickening thing being run out. Mike was good. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. handsome chap." suggested Burgess.

One cannot help one's thoughts. I'm a prefect." It was a difficult moment for Bob. made him waver. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. "Well. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. you're not a bad sort. Not much good lugging the prefects into it." emended the aggrieved party. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. he became all animation. Seeing Bob. You must play the the old Gazeka over. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. "I say. is there? I mean. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. He had a great admiration for Bob. "You see it now. "I that sort. Bob. would it be. "I thought you hadn't. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now." he said." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. "Look here. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. I don't know. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. you're a pal of his. He gets right way. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. though." he said. go and ask him to drop the business. He wants kicking. too."Awful rot. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. You know." he said." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. Look here. But he recovered himself. "I didn't think of you." . don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. you know. I tell you what." he said. you know." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this." said Bob. I know. aren't you? Well. "I wanted to see you. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. "Burgess was telling me. "Don't do that. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. not much of a catch for me. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. nothing--I mean. apart from everything else. having to sit there and look on." said Bob. "Yes?" "Oh. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match.

and unburdened his soul to him. most of all." "Thanks." said Bob. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind." "What's that?" inquired Mike. "I'm specially glad for one reason. Mike. Still." said Burton. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. though without success. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. he felt grateful to Bob. it was frightful cheek. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. you know. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. he. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. Firby-Smith. Curiously enough. Reflection." "Yes. and owed him many grudges. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. "I say. All right then. and Burton felt revengeful. He wished he could find some way of repaying him." "Of course it was. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. there's that. He was not inclined to be critical. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. so subdued was his fighting spirit. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. in the course of his address. He was a punctured balloon. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. And."Well. I did run him out. of Donaldson's. really. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. I think if I saw him and cursed him. of course." said Mike." "No. But for Bob." and Bob waving them back. Mike's all right. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. fourteen years of age. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. he gave him to understand. and the offensively forgiving. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. After all. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. without interest. ." "Thanks. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. and went to find Mike. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him.

We wanted your batting. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. just before lock-up. and his decision remained unaltered. They were _all_ beasts. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. weighing this remark. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. Burgess. He thought the thing over more fully during school. He kicked Burton. Be all right. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's." said Mike stolidly. that's bad luck." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. too."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. * * * * * Mike walked on. as it were.54 next morning." "I say. for his left was in a sling. in a day or two. Good-night. "Come in!" yelled the captain." And Burgess. I suppose?" "Oh. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule." said Mike. though. CHAPTER XVI . but several times. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8." "Good-night." "Hope so. and gradually made up his mind. Not once or twice. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. some taint. He tapped with his right hand. On the evening before the Geddington match. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. so that Burton. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow." "Thanks." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. He'd have been playing but for you. rather. retiring hurriedly. anyway. yes. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. Beastly bad luck. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much.

Still. and." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. at the request of Mike's mother. thanks. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house." "Doctor seen it?" "No. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. "It isn't anything. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. Somebody ought to look at it. It's nothing much. He had thereupon left the service.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. and. Now. Mike? I want to see a match. Be all right by Monday. Coming south. mainly in Afghanistan." "Never mind. But it's really nothing. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. I didn't see. I think I should like to see the place first. after an adventurous career. It doesn't matter a bit. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Only it's away." "They're playing Geddington. "School playing anybody to-day. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. Uncle John." "I could manage about that. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. really." "H'm. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. There's a second match on." "Hurt?" "Not much. I'll have a look later on." "Why aren't you--Hullo. . what shall we do. His telegram arrived during morning school.

" "For the first? For the school! My word. they'll probably keep him in. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. that. They look as if they were getting set. The thing was done. by George!" remarked Uncle John. Then there'll be only the last place left." "Rather awkward." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. There are only three vacancies. I see." he said enviously. and done well. Mike." said Mike. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. and they passed on to the cricket field. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. But I wish I . What bad luck. and better do it as soon as possible. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. Very nice. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. I've got plenty of time. He's in the School House. I was playing for the first." "Still. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. "If he does well to-day. it was this Saturday. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. Of course." Uncle John detected the envious note. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. it's Bob's last year. I didn't know that. but I thought that was only as a substitute. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. as Trevor. I should think. but he choked the feeling down." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business.Got to be done. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. "Chap in Donaldson's. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. "Ah yes." two or three times in an absent voice. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. It was a glorious day. if he does well against Geddington. A sudden. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. Neville-Smith. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. "That's Trevor. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. By Jove. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand.

"The worst of a school. "It's really nothing. I wonder how Bob's got on. Can you manage with one hand? Here. Let's have a look at the wrist. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time." he began." "Rotten trick for a boy. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. Mike?" "No." Uncle John looked over his shoulder." said Mike. recovered himself. "But I believe they're weak in bowling." After they had watched the match for an hour. . "Geddington 151 for four. as he pulled up-stream with strong." "Not bad that. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. let me--Done it? Good." said Mike.could get in this year. The telegram read. "I hope you don't smoke. and sighed contentedly. "That willow's what you want. caught a crab." said Uncle John. Which reminds me." stammered Mike. unskilful stroke. "Ye--no. "That hurt?" he asked. The next piece of shade that you see. Mike was crimson. then gave it a little twist." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. sing out. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. When you get to my age you need it. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. Uncle John looked up sharply. They got up." "Pull your left. "Let's just call at the shop." said Mike. but his uncle had already removed the sling. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. I badly want a pipe. and we'll put in there. "Put the rope over that stump. Lunch." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself.

gaping.. let his mind wander to Geddington. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. and his uncle sat up. "Jove. on. I won't give you away. There was an exam. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. dash it all then. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. That's how it was. I was nearly asleep. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. really. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated." ." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. (This. I think. would they give him his cap? Supposing. swear you won't tell him... What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late." Uncle John was silent. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. Look here." When in doubt." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point." "I won't tell him. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. "I know. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. while Mike. Mike told it. It had struck him as neat and plausible. where his fate was even now being sealed. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Lock-up's at half-past. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. one may as well tell the truth. Mike said nothing. well. It wasn't that." "I ought to be getting back soon.) "Swear you won't tell him. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. "May as well tell me. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. so I thought I might as well let him.

only they wouldn't let me. "We won." He paused for a moment. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first." he said." Mike worked his way back through the throng. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "Well?" said Uncle John. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. It was a longer message this time. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. as they reached the school gates. I'm done. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets." Wyatt began to undress. then. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. I'm going to shove her off. How's your wrist?" "Oh. "It was simply baking at Geddington. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. Jackson 48). thanks. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. Neville-Smith four)." he added carelessly."Up with the anchor. "By Jove. It was the only possible reply. better. . eh? We are not observed. I should think. and they ragged the whole time." said Mike. and rejoined his uncle. Uncle John felt in his pocket." "There'll be another telegram. Don't fall overboard. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Marsh 58. "Bob made forty-eight. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. I wanted to go to sleep.

had come to much the same conclusion. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. No first. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. A bit lucky. can't remember who. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. though. reviewing the match that night. Jenkins and Clephane. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . If he dwelt on it. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. too. and another chap. when he does give a couple of easy chances. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. With great guile he had fed this late cut." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Only one or two thirds."No. with watercress round it. Beastly man to bowl to. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. he felt. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. he fell asleep. He was very fond of Bob. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. off Billy. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Just lost them the match. to-day. Bob puts them both on the floor. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. He let their best man off twice in one over. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. as he lay awake in his cubicle. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. Soothed by these memories. Ripping innings bar those two chances." "Why. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man." Burgess. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. And. Their umpire. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. Never saw a clearer case in my life. Bit of luck for Bob." "Most captains would have done." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. he would get insomnia. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. I was in at the other end. Chap had a go at it.

accordingly. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference." "Well. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. "Look here. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. As for Mike. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom." "I know. "It's those beastly slip catches. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. About your fielding. I could get time to watch them there. of Seymour's. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. and hoped for the day. Bob. I'm certain the deep would be much better. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. I can't time them. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I know that if a catch does come." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. Bob. Both of them were." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. I shall miss it. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. Bob figured on the boundary. This did not affect the bulk of the school." "All right then. Trevor'll hit me up catches. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. I believe I should do better in the deep.chance of reforming. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now." Bob was all remorse. I hate the slips. * * * * * In the next two matches." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. I'm frightfully sorry. It's simply awful. he played for the second. found his self-confidence returning slowly. as he stood regarding the game from afar. drop by drop." "Do you know. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. I'll practise like mad. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. Try it. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. but I mean.

be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. Marsh. would be Shoeblossom. Two days later Barry felt queer. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. Shoeblossom. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. Upstairs. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. Essentially a man of moods. He made his way there. for chicken-pox. and. and at the bottom of the heap. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. disappeared from Society. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. entering the High Street furtively. He. and returned to the school. and in the dingy back shop.Quiet Student. too. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. He had occasional headaches. On the Tuesday afternoon. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. He tried out of doors. he was attending J. where he read _Punch_. Shoeblossom came away. peace. of the first eleven. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. however necessary such an action might seem to him. and also. was called for. G. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. the school doctor. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. The professional advice of Dr. squealing louder than any two others. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. The next victim was Marsh. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. Where were his drives now. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. what was more important. who was top of the school averages. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. the son of the house. and thought of Life. He tried the junior day-room. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. at the same moment. Oakes. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. sucked oranges. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). In brief. but people threw cushions at him.

"If I do" he said to Wyatt. and was not out eleven. His food ran out. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. Some schools do it in nearly every match. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. for Neville-Smith. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. I've got the taste in my mouth still. when Wain's won the footer cup. but nobody except Wyatt. they failed miserably. going in fourth wicket. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. three years ago. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. They had only been beaten once. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. and the school. batting when the wicket was easier. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. too. Have to look after my digestion. But on this particular day. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. for rain fell early in the morning. for no apparent reason. batting first on the drying wicket. bar the servants. did anything to distinguish himself. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and Mike kept his end up. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. made a dozen. The total was a hundred and seven." . and I'm alone. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly.elect. The weather may have had something to do with it. Bob. I remember. doubled this. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. Too old now. and ate that. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. All sorts of luxuries. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. and after that the rout began. "Well. And I can square them. and the Incogniti. Got through a slice.

Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. making desultory conversation the while. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. He got tea ready. of course. passed him the bread." "Bit better." "You get on much better in the deep." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. I don't know. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. We've all been at Wrykyn." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. he would just do it. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "You were all right. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. Why? What about?" . and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. When he had finished. Still. though. He's bound to get in next year. Beastly awkward. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. one wants the best man. yes. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy." "Oh. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. "because it is." Mike stared. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. of course. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. Bob. and sat down. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. being older." continued Bob. was more at his ease. I can't say more than that. he poured Mike out a cup. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. Mike. "Not seen much of each other lately. Pity to spoil the record.

And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. 'That's just what I think. . doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. As it isn't me." Mike looked at the floor. but don't feel bound to act on it. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. He was sorry for Bob. 'Decidedly M. what I wanted to see you about was this. now. "Not at all." muttered Mike. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. just now. There was nothing much to _be_ said."Well..' said old Bill. rot. I'm jolly glad it's you. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. and I picked it up and started reading it. wiping the sweat off his forehead. there'll be no comparison. Spence said.'" "Oh. I fancy you've won. and now he had achieved it. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. What do you think. sir. "Well. don't let's go to the other extreme. and tore across to Wain's. and then sheered off myself. "Thanks. I've a sort of idea our little race is over.'s like a sounding-board. 'Well. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. 'I don't know what to do. Billy agreed with him. sir. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. and that's what he's there for." resumed Bob.' he said. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. I waited a bit to give them a good start. It had been his one ambition. of course. Congratulate you. So Mike edged out of the room. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. Billy said. 'Well.' 'Yes. The pav. and said nothing. in the First room. I'm simply saying what I think. sir?' Spence said. and so on. he's cricket-master. I couldn't help hearing what they said. Burgess. It's the fortune of war. and in a year or two. to shake his hand. 'It's rough on Bob." It was the custom at Wrykyn. After all. '_I_ think M. Bob. but. They thought the place was empty. He's a shade better than R.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. And so home. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes." said Mike. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. I heard every word. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. They shook hands. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. I was in the pav.' said Spence. awfully. Well. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. of course. on the other hand. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. I'll give you my opinion. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration.

The only possible confidant was Wyatt. Until he returned. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. Reaching out a hand for his watch. Still. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. Mike could tell nobody. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. as it always does. he found that it was five minutes past six. even on a summer morning. dash it. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. and a little more. It would have to be done. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. a prospect that appealed to him. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. He took his quarter of an hour. and this silent alarm proved effective. . therefore." said Mike.30 to-morrow morning.--W. As he passed it. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. This was to the good.-S. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it." "Oh. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. orders were orders. was not. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. And Wyatt was at Bisley. It wouldn't do. F. he felt. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night.

And outside in the cricket-field. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. I want to know what it all means. One simply lies there. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. "Young Jackson. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. by the way. he said to himself. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. inconvenienced--in short. yes. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. dash it all. "look here. looking at him. Who _was_ he. But logic is of no use. Didn't you see the notice?" . for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. Now he began to waver. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. The painful interview took place after breakfast. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. Mike thought he would take another minute. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. and waited. It was time. Was this right. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. and jolly quick. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. One would have felt. Here was he. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. Make the rest of the team fag about." he said. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. in coming to his den. But not a chap who. One knows that delay means inconvenience. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. he asked himself. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. and glared. he felt. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. being ordered about. that Mike. would be bad enough.

"Six!" "Five past. as you please. That's what you've got. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. and I've seen it coming on. You think the place belongs to you. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent." said Mike. I've had my eye on you for some time. turn up or not." said the Gazeka shrilly. "Yes. just listen to me. and I'm captain of it. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. "Then you frightful kid.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. this. "Do--you--see. young man. It was not according to his complicated. but he rather fancied not. Frightful swelled head. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things." "I don't. did you? Well." said Mike indignantly. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. Happy thought: over-slept himself. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment." "Oh. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. That's got nothing to do with it. The point is that you're one of the house team. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. See?" Mike said nothing. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. you went to sleep again. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. you think you can do what you like. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. Just because you've got your second. The rather large grain of truth in what . He mentioned this. Awfully embarrassing. You've got swelled head. you do.

Firby-Smith had said had gone home. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. and his feelings were hurt. Wyatt came back. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. Failing that. full of the true." he said. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. Wyatt was worn out. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. Zam-buk's what you want. I didn't hit the bull every time. and I suppose it always will be. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back." . My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. I'll go down and look. "Oh. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. as he had nearly done once before. but cheerful. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. "What's your trouble?" he asked. and stared at a photograph on the wall. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. If it's a broken heart. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. and surveyed Mike. "That's the cats. "Do you see?" he asked again. water will do. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner." He left the dormitory. Very heady. What one really wants here is a row of stars. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. for a beaker full of the warm south. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. Always at it. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Mike's jaw set more tightly." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. Well. He set his teeth. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. A-ah!" He put down the glass.

having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. 'Jackson." he said. silent natures. putting down the jug. Cheers from the audience. If he's captain. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. That's discipline. look here. There are some things you simply can't do. The speaker then paused."He said I stuck on side. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. 'Talking of side. drew a deep breath. Otherwise." "Why?" "I don't know. I defy any one to.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. and say. You stick on side. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. but. blood as you are at cricket. my gentle che-ild. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . you stick it on. "Such body.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. He winked in a friendly way. you've got to obey him. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in." "I didn't turn up. and. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. "I say. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. "And why. that 'ere is." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it." "In passing. really. and." said Mike morosely." "No. "Nothing like this old '87 water. a word in your ear. while I get dropped on if I break out. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. you'll have a rotten time here." "What! Why?" "Oh. I don't know." "I mean. It's too early in the morning." "I like you jawing about discipline.

having beaten Ripton." Mike made no reply. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. "me. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. cheerful disregard of. . Until you learn that. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. Harrow. really meant. but it isn't done. When you're a white-haired old man like me. or Wrykyn. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. rather. Geddington. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. He would have perished rather than admit it. Dulwich. Ripton. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. of which so much is talked and written. About my breaking out. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. the other you mustn't ever break. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. I thank you. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. That was the match with Ripton. Wrykyn. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. for the first time in his life. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. and Wilborough formed a group. There was no actual championship competition. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. Tonbridge. before the Ripton match. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Paul's are a third. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn." he concluded modestly.saying--just so. but it generally did. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. or. if possible. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. That night. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. but each played each. I don't know why. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. most forms of law and order. and St. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. In this way. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. His feelings were curiously mixed. But this did not happen often. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. would go down before Wilborough. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. If Wyatt. as far as games are concerned. young Jackson. Eton. Haileybury.

he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. there was a week before the match. Bob got to it with one hand. he postponed the thing. and he hated to have to do it. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. but he was steady. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. He had fairly earned his place. Spence had voted for Mike. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him." said Burgess. From small causes great events do spring. It was a difficult catch. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. . "Pleasure is pleasure. The more he thought of it. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. In case of accident. and Mr. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. as the poet has it. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. As it was. and biz is biz. The report was more than favourable. But. and held it. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. Finally he had consulted Mr. and sprint. One gave him no trouble. He could write it after tea. feeling that life was good. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. he would have kept Bob In. the sorrier he was for him. If he could have pleased himself. There were two vacancies. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. After all. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends.Burgess. and he had done well in the earlier matches." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Spence. engrossed in his book. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. And. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. "Well held. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. accordingly. * * * * * When school was over. With him at short slip. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession.

"What's up?" inquired Burgess. He'll be able to play on Saturday. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. but one has one's personal ambitions." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. and so he proceeded to tell . it may be mentioned. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. nothing."Hullo. of course. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house." There was. and all the time the team was filled up. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation." "Oh. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." "Easy when you're only practising. What hard luck it was! There was he. It was decidedly a blow." he explained. Burgess passed on. in fact. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense." said the Gazeka. That Burgess would feel. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. "I couldn't get both hands to it. He suppressed his personal feelings. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. but it's all right. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. There are many kinds of walk." said Bob. on being told of Mike's slackness. "Young Jackson. and became the cricket captain again." said Bob awkwardly." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. "This way for Iron Wills. towards the end of the evening. He was glad for the sake of the school. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. Firby-Smith. as who should say. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. "You're hot stuff in the deep." "I've just been to the Infirmary. did not enter his mind. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. do you mean? Oh. his mind full of Bob once more." "Good. It was the cricket captain who.

Bob. Bob had beaten him on the tape. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. Bob. there had never been an R." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. There was no possibility of mistake. that looked less like an M. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. Bob stared after him. Mike scarcely heard him. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. "Hard luck!" said somebody. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. He looked at the paper. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list." he in detail. than the one on that list. going out. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. "Congratulate you. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. Since writing was invented. as he was rather late. * * * * * When. As he stared. Trevor came out of the block. hurrying. and passed on. therefore. met Bob coming in. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. "Congratulate you.

Here it is. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. "Thanks awfully. You're a cert. You've got your first. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. Mike. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. and Burgess agree with him." "My--what? you're rotting. This was no place for him. "Got a letter from mother this morning. I showed you the last one. Trevor moved on. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. you'll have three years in the first. for next year. I'm not. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall." said Bob." "Hope so. feeling very ill. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." . and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. if you want to read it. "Anyhow. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. When one has missed one's colours." he said awkwardly. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. very long way off. came down the steps. Bob. Go and look. No reason why he shouldn't. "Congratulate you. with equal awkwardness." The thing seemed incredible. There was a short silence." "Well. "Jolly glad you've got it. "I believe there's a mistake. as the post was late. it's jolly rummy." "No. neither speaking. next year seems a very." "Thanks. It'll be something to do during Math."Seen what?" "Why the list. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." said Mike. Just then. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin." said Mike. Not much in it. They moved slowly through the cloisters. delicately. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute.

and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it." Mike resented the tone. A brief spell of agony. "What's up?" asked Mike. but it was lessened. and Mike noticed." "Why not here?" "Come on. sitting up and taking nourishment. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. but followed. with some surprise." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. When they had left the crowd behind. Mike heard the words "English Essay." "After you. that. as it were. somebody congratulated Bob again. and. and went up to the headmaster. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop." said Mike amiably. he stopped. "Read that. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. Haven't had time to look at it yet. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. too. I'll give it you in the interval. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. seeing that the conversation was ." and. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. The disappointment was still there. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. These things are like kicks on the shin. seeing Mike. for the first time in her life. even an irritated look.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. I'll show it you outside. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. it's for me all right. Mike was. and which in time disappears altogether. there appeared on his face a worried. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. As they went out on the gravel." he said. He looked round. "Got that letter?" "Yes. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. "Hullo."Marjory wrote. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it." "No. Bob appeared curiously agitated. He seemed to have something on his mind.

lead up to it.P. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory.apparently going to be one of some length. with a style of her own. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all.--This has been a frightful fag to write. She was jolly sick about it. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. I am quite well. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). and let it take its chance with the other news-items. "P. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. He read it during school. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. and ceased to wonder. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. it will be all through Mike. under the desk. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. Well. and display it to the best advantage.-"I hope you are quite well.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. capped the headmaster and walked off. She was a breezy correspondent. Bob had had cause to look worried. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. it . Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. He put the missive in his pocket. Why don't you do that? "M. Reggie made a duck. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. Have you got your first? If you have. I told her it served her right. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire." There followed a P. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. and it's _the_ match of the season.S. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. Phyllis has a cold. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent.S. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French.

"I did. Still." he said at last. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. it was beastly awkward. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. Marjory meant well. but she had put her foot right in it. "How do you mean?" said Mike. Bob couldn't do much. If he was going to let out things like that. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. You know. So it came out. "I mean. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. that's how it was. is it all rot.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. I suppose I am. The team was filled up." he broke off hotly. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. he might at least have whispered them." "I didn't think you'd ever know. and would insist on having a look at my arm. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things.." . why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him.. and all that. "Did you read it?" "Yes. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. "Of course. He came down when you were away at Geddington. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all." "Well. They met at the nets. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. "Well?" said Bob." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. I don't know. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was.. I couldn't choke him off. "I know I ought to be grateful. Besides. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot." said Mike.

"Anyhow. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. "I shall get in next year all right. Or. who sat down on an acorn one day." he said. when he awoke. and happened to doze. he altered his plans. well. When affairs get into a real tangle." Mike said." He sidled off. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." said Bob to himself. and had a not unpleasant time." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. it's all over now. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. finding this impossible. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. This is Philosophy. if one does not do that. Others try to grapple with them. "Well. simply to think no more about them." "I'm hanged if it is. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. . I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. and slides out of such situations." "What about it?" "Well. The sensible man realises this. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. I decide to remain here. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. and it grew so rapidly that. sixty feet from the ground. He thought he would go home. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. anyhow." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. but the air was splendid and the view excellent." added Mike."I don't remember. He looked helplessly at Mike. "I must see Burgess about it. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate." Which he did." "Oh. "Besides. but. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "Well. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. Half a second. but it never does any good. admitting himself beaten.

It's not your fault. Though. in it. "Still. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. Very sporting of your brother and all that. now it's up. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. might find some way of making things right for everybody. at the moment. if possible. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it." "I do. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. in council. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. These things. It would not be in the picture. like the man in the oak-tree. but why should you do anything? You're all right. and here you _are_. have to be carried through stealthily. And Burgess. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. "I suppose you can't very well. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. You simply keep on saying you're all right. after Mike's fashion. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. Besides.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. of course. and took the line of least resistance." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this." said Bob. I could easily fake up some excuse. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. At which period he remarked a rum business. what you say doesn't help us out much. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. confessed to the same to solve the problem. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. Tell you what." . Bob should have done so. "But I must do something. Imitate this man. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. It's me. seeing that the point is. though. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. consulted on the point." Bob agreed. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. if they are to be done at school. I don't know if it's occurred to you. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher.

That slight smile of yours will meet behind. So long. I've got my first. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything." "He isn't so keen. with a brilliant display of front teeth. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. if that's any good to you. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . If you really want to know." "Well. thanks for reminding me." "Mind the step. and then the top of your head'll come off. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "I'll tell you what you look like. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. He's a young slacker." said Bob. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. As the distance between them lessened. but a slack field wants skinning. whatever happens." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. You sweated away. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. A bad field's bad enough. but supposing you had." said Burgess." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say." said Neville-Smith. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. that's why you've got your first instead of him. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. expansive grin. if you don't look out." "Oh. so out he went." "Anyhow. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. all right. he did tell me. I feel like--I don't know what."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. as the Greek exercise books say. So you see how it is. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. Not that you did. At any rate.. Wyatt." "I don't care. "Thanks.

" "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I shall manage it." "But one or two day-boys are coming. can't you?" "Delighted. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. I'll try to do as little damage as possible." "Good man. and I'll come down. Clephane is. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me." "No. a sudden compunction seized upon . And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. All the servants'll have gone to bed. anyhow it's to-night." "You _will_ turn up." "Yes. You'll see the window of my room. I get on very well. if you like. We shall have rather a rag. I expect. After all. which I have--well. You can roll up.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. for one. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. It'll be the only one lighted up. I'm going to get the things now. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. I needn't throw a brick." "The school is going to the dogs. I've often thought of asking my pater for one." As Wyatt was turning away." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. Still. Heave a pebble at it." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "Said it wasn't good enough. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. eleven'll do me all right. if I did." "So will the glass--with a run. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. They all funked have at home in honour of my getting my first." "The race is degenerating. Make it a bit earlier. nor iron bars a cage. for goodness sake. And Beverley. Still. It's just above the porch.

merriest day of all the glad New Year." "I shall do my little best not to be. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached." "Don't go getting caught." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. "What's up?" he asked. If so. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. He called him back." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. and the wall by the . I don't know if he keeps a dog. Rather tricky work. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. "Don't you worry about me. Ginger-beer will flow like water. They've no thought for people's convenience here. though. you don't think it's too risky. APPLEBY "You may not know it. that's all right. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. "I say. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens." said Wyatt. you always are breaking out at night. "but this is the maddest. No expense has been spared. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night." "Oh. I've used all mine. do you? I mean. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. but he did not state his view of the case. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. getting back." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor.Neville-Smith. I've got to climb two garden walls. Still. All you have to do is to open the window and step out." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. we must make the best of things." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place.

and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. he climbed another wall. but the room had got hot and stuffy. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. sniffing as he walked. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. Then he decided on the latter. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. There he paused. it is true. Crossing this. dusted his trousers. The window of his study was open. "What a night!" he said to himself. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. which had suffered on the two walls. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. They were all dark. and let himself out of the back door. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. This was the route which he took to-night. There was a full moon. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. At present there remained much to be done. From here he could see the long garden. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. Why not. for instance. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. It was a glorious July night. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. Wain's. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. the master who had the house next to Mr.potting-shed was a feline club-house. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and get a decent show for one's money in . He was in plenty of time. Appleby. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. ran lightly across it. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. He was fond of his garden. Appleby. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. whatever you did to it. and was in the lane within a minute. Much better have flowers. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. true. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night.

the extent of the damage done. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. and indirectly. Sentiment. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. on hands and knees. and. Appleby had left his chair. As far as he could see. bade him forget the episode. It was on another plane. He paused. Appleby. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. Appleby. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. however. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. close his eyes or look the other way. He receives a salary for doing this duty. The surprise. He knew that there were times when a master might. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. . examining. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. of course. wondering how he should act. Breaking out at night. Mr. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. Appleby that first awoke to action. he had recognised him. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. with the aid of the moonlight. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. through the headmaster.summer at any rate. and remember that he is in a position of trust. He went his way openly. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. it was not serious. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. he would have done so. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. It was not an easy question. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. and rose to his feet. without blame. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. to the parents. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. As he dropped into the lane. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. liked and respected by boys and masters. He always played the game. but he may use his discretion. With a sigh of relief Mr. treat it as if it had never happened. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. was a different thing altogether.

"I'll smoke. Appleby came over his relighted pipe." And. Mr. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. About Wyatt. Exceedingly so. The blind shot up. The thing still rankled. if you don't mind. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. He tapped on the window. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Wain. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. I'm afraid. Mr. He turned down his lamp. Wain. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. and walked round to Wain's. "Can I have a word with you. like a sea-beast among rocks. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. Mr. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. instead of through the agency of the headmaster." began Mr.This was the conclusion to which Mr. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. greatly to Mr." said Mr. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. but they would have to wait. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. I'll climb in through here. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. shall I? No need to unlock the door. Appleby. and squeezed through into the room. in the middle of which stood Mr. only it's something important." "Sorry. . Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. Appleby. He could not let the matter rest where it was." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago." Mr. Wain?" he said. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room.

Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. He hoped . Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. You can deal with the thing directly. That is a very good idea of yours. Appleby. He was wondering what would happen." "Good-night. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster." said Mr." "So was I." "You astound me." "There is certainly something in what you say." "Possibly. You are quite right. He had taken the only possible course. and. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. Wain on reflection. If you come to think of it. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Tackle the boy when he comes in. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Why." "He's not there now. That is certainly the course I should pursue. Appleby." Mr." "No. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. Appleby offered no suggestion. Appleby. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. You are not going?" "Must." said Mr. It's like daylight out of doors. Yes. Got a pile of examination papers to look over."James! In your garden! Impossible. a little nettled. I am astonished. "Let's leave it at that." "I don't see why. and have it out with him. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." "I will." Mr. It isn't like an ordinary case. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. then. sit down. Exceedingly so. this is most extraordinary. You're the parent. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. Sorry to have disturbed you. "A good deal. Good-night. Appleby." "Bars can be removed. "What shall I do?" Mr." "You must have been mistaken." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. He would have no choice. Dear me.

. it was true. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. But the other bed was empty. It was not all roses. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. least of all in those many years younger than himself. The moon shone in through the empty space. If he had gone out. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. broken by various small encounters. This breaking-out. pondering over the news he had heard. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He liked Wyatt. He grunted. and nothing else. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. It would be a thousand pities. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake.. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. Mike was there. He had been working hard. And the bars across the window had looked so solid.. If further proof had been needed. he would hardly have returned yet. and then consider the episode closed. and waited there in the semi-darkness. Mr. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. Mr. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. a sorrowful. Wyatt he had regarded. and the night was warm. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed.. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. It was not. asleep. . from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Lately. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. was the last straw. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. and walked quietly upstairs. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. he reflected wrathfully. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. Appleby had been right. as a complete nuisance. by silent but mutual agreement... if he were to be expelled. Mr. He took a candle. so much as an exasperated. the life of an assistant master at a public school. he felt. one of the bars was missing from the window. thinking. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes.they would not. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. He blew the candle out. therefore. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.

But he should leave. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. Mr. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. Wyatt dusted his knees. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. There was literally no way out. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. as the house-master shifted his position. Mike saw him start. and rubbed his hands together.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Jackson. At that moment Mr. and the letter should go by the first post next day. Wyatt should not be expelled. Then he seemed to recover himself. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees." snapped the house-master. immediately. Wain relit his candle. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. "Go to sleep. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. but could hear nothing. He lay down again without a word. father!" he said pleasantly. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. "Hullo!" said Mike. is that you. "Hullo. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. Wain. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. and that immediately. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. The time had come to put an end to it. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. "James!" said Mr. His voice sounded ominously hollow. . but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike.

"I shall talk to you in my study. sir. lying in bed. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Speaking at a venture. Wyatt!" said Mike. "It's all right." "What'll he do." He left the room. my little Hyacinth. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. now. what!" "But. "I am astonished. do you think?" "Ah." "Yes.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. really.' We . James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. it seemed a long silence. Exceedingly astonished. I say." said Wyatt. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. I say. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide." "I got a bit of a start myself. Suppose I'd better go down. Follow me there. I suppose." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck." said Wyatt. Wain spoke. holding his breath. it's awful. To Mike. "But. sir. The swift and sudden boot. "Yes. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. Mike began to get alarmed. About an hour. "That reminds me. speaking with difficulty. Me sweating to get in quietly. rolling with laughter. "You have been out. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. Then Mr. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. "I say. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. He flung himself down on his bed. I shall be sorry to part with you." said Wyatt at last.

" he said. may I inquire. Wyatt sat down. and began to tap the table." explained Wyatt." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. "Only my slipper. "Exceedingly. sir. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. choking sob. Wain jumped nervously. out of the house. sir. then. This is my Moscow. minions." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. Don't go to sleep." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view." * * * * * In the study Mr." "What?" "Yes. I follow." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . Well. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." "And. 'tis well! Lead on. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. "Well?" "I haven't one. sir. "It slipped. "Well. Where are me slippers? Ha. Mr. James. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. "Sit down. Wain took up a pen. at that hour?" "I went for a walk." "Not likely." "The fact is----" said Wyatt." Mr. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. That'll be me.shall meet at Philippi." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. James?" Wyatt said nothing. sir. I suppose I'd better go down.

Only it _was_ sending me off. "I am sorry. James. I mean. Wyatt. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. It's sending me to sleep. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. In a minute or two he would be asleep. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. ." Mr. Wain." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. "As you know. It is impossible for me to overlook it." said Wyatt laconically. "I wish you wouldn't do that. Wain suspended tapping operations. and resumed the thread of his discourse. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you." Wyatt nodded. but this is a far more serious matter. It is not fitting. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. Tap like that. You will not go to school to-morrow." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. father. Exceedingly so. James. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." continued Mr. watching it. even were I disposed to do so. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. You must leave the school." "I need hardly say. exceedingly. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. ignoring the interruption." "Of course.motor-car. At once. "It is expulsion. Do you understand? That is all. sir. approvingly. to see this attitude in you." said Wyatt. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all.

By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. yes. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. Burgess came up." "What? When?" "He's left already. father. here you are. "What happened?" "We chatted. Wain were public property."No." said Wyatt cheerfully." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. "Anybody seen young--oh. was in great request as an informant. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. . his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. but it failed to comfort him. I shoot off almost immediately. as an actual spectator of the drama. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. he's got to leave. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school." he said. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. Mike. "Oh. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. He isn't coming to school again. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda." Mike was miserably silent." Burgess's first thought. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. as befitted a good cricket captain. was for his team. all amongst the ink and ledgers. "Buck up. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. and began to undress. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. or some rot.

" "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes." "All right. But I don't suppose it'll be possible."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. without enthusiasm. anyway. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. and he's taken him away from the school." continued Burgess. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. I expect." said Mike. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match." agreed Mike. Hope he does. withdrawn. Look here. You know. during the night. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. last night after Neville-Smith's. however. "I say. There was. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. his pal. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. You'll play on Saturday. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. They met in the cloisters. "All the same. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Bob was the next to interview him. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. Wyatt was his best friend." "I should like to say good-bye. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. Mike!" said Bob. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. you see. that's the part he bars most." "He'll find it rather a change. "Hullo. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. though!" he added after a pause." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. As a matter of fact. Not unless he comes to the dorm. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. one exception to the general rule. young Jackson.

"It was all my fault. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale." he said at length. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. "It was absolutely my fault. Only our first. by the way. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. as far as I can see. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. plunged in meditation. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. so he waited for him at half-past twelve." said Burgess. "Nothing much. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. this wouldn't have happened. "I say. where Mike left him. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. That's all.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day." said Mike." Mike was not equal to the task conscience." "Neville-Smith! Why. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. I don't know. Well. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. way. "Only that. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. Jackson. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. "What's up?" asked Bob. Bob." . They walked on without further Wain's gate. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one." "Oh. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. with a forced and grisly calm. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. "If it hadn't been for me. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. In extra on Saturday.

The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. So Mr. to start with. And he can ride. Stronger than the one we drew with. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. glad to be there again. too. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. the Argentine Republic."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. . the door of which that cautious pedagogue. who believed in taking no chances. "I wanted to see you. for lack of anything better to say. presumably on business. He must be able to work it. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. or was being." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. "I say.C. did he?" Mike. "Very. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine." "By Jove.C. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. It's about Wyatt. Wain's dressing-room. his father had gone over there for a visit. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. He's a jolly good shot. where countless sheep lived and had their being. three years ago." Burgess grunted. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. I've thought of something. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. All these things seemed to show that Mr." "Oh. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. I may hold a catch for a change. and once. He never chucked the show altogether. that's to say. made.C. I should think. They whacked the M.C. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there." "By Jove. Mike. as most other boys of his age would have been. If it comes off. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. Jolly hot team of M. Mike was just putting on his pads. from all accounts. well." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob." said Bob. he had a partner. Like Mr. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. Bob went on his way to the nets. Spenlow. I know. I'll write to father to-night. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. As a matter of fact. he'd jump at anything.

which had run as follows: "Mr. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. Wyatt's letter was longer.. Racquets?" "Yes.." "Cricketer?" "Yes. sir. sir. These letters he would then stamp." After which a Mr." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. Sportsman?" "Yes. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield.. sir. Jackson's letter was short.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. and subsequently take in bundles to the . In any case he would buy him a lunch. sir. He said that he hoped something could be managed. sir." "Everything?" "Yes. Mr. by a Beginner. sir." "H'm ." "Play football?" "Yes. but that. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. you won't get any more of it now." "H'm . CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. Wyatt?" "Yes. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger... He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank." "H'm . but to the point. Well. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer.

Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. Honours were heaped upon him. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius.' which is a sort of start. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. Burgess. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. as a member of the staff. It was a day on which to win the toss. would be as useless as not playing at all. if it got the school out of a tight place.' So long. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. Burgess. "I should win the toss to-day. "I should cook the accounts. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. when the match was timed to begin. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. The Ripton match was a special event." said Mr. was not slow to recognise this fact. if the sun comes out. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Even twenty. There were twelve colours given three years ago. Spence. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. At eleven-thirty. "Who will go on first with you. Spence. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. Still. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. match. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. It would just suit him. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw." wrote Wyatt. Wyatt. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. "Or even Wyatt. by J. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against office. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. sir. if I were you. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. I suppose. But it doesn't seem in my line. It had stopped late at night." Mr." said Burgess. this. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. Burgess?" . To do only averagely well. to be among the ruck." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M.C." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. and go in first. "Just what I was thinking. Mind you make a century. inspecting the wicket with Mr.C. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult.

sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. They had been at the same private school. I've lost the toss five times running. "Certainly. It's a hobby of mine. well. I believe. A boy called de Freece. "but I think we'll toss. He's a pretty useful chap all round. I think. The other's yours. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. the Ripton captain. He wasn't in the team last year. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. about our batting. And. You call. so I was bound to win to-day. win the toss." "I know the chap." "I should." said Burgess ruefully." "Tails it is. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. above all. I suppose?" "Yes--after us." "Oh. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. "We'll go in first." "You'll put us in. "One consolation is." "Heads." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day." said Burgess." "I don't think a lot of that. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. Mac. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. Looks as if it were going away." "I must win the toss. Plays racquets for them too. Ellerby. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." "Well." said Maclaine. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. "It's a nuisance too. This end."Who do you think. though. of the Bosanquet type. it might have been all right. On a dry. were old acquaintances. and comes in instead. I don't know of him. He was crocked when they came here. that's a . but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." said Burgess. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now.

seventy-four for three wickets. held it. as it generally does. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. The pitch had begun to play tricks. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. At sixty Ellerby. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. as it did on this occasion." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready.comfort. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. as also happened now. So Ripton went in to hit. but the score. Burgess. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. Buck up and send some one in. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. run out. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. Then . They meant to force the game. The change worked. Dashing tactics were laid aside. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. The policy proved successful for a time. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. he was compelled to tread cautiously. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. Burgess began to look happier. as he would want the field paved with it. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. and let's get at you. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. gave place to Grant. The score mounted rapidly. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. which was now shining brightly. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. Twenty came in ten minutes. and Bob. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. but it means that wickets will fall. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. Another hour of play remained before lunch. They plodded on. The sun. Maclaine. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. but which did not always break. and was certain to get worse. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze.

and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. And when he bowled a straight ball. missed his second. His record score. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. A four and a three to de Freece. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. and his one hit. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. it was not a yorker. Just a ball or two to the last man. The other batsman played out the over. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. the slow bowler. when the wicket is bad. as they walked . and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. for the last ten minutes. and it will be their turn to bat. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. but he had also a very accurate eye. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. the ten minutes before lunch. He bowled a straight. That period which is always so dangerous. when a quarter to two arrived. and de Freece. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. came off with distressing frequency. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. a semicircular stroke. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. He had made twenty-eight. when Ellerby. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. it was not straight. they resent it. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. The last man had just gone to the wickets. Every run was invaluable now. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. found his leg-stump knocked back. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. he explained to Mike. So far it was anybody's game. who had gone on again instead of Grant.Ellerby. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. and with it the luncheon interval. did what Burgess had failed to do. swiping at it with a bright smile. medium-paced yorker. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head.

"It's that googly man. Berridge. The tragedy started with the very first ball. would be anything record-breaking. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. But ordinary standards would not apply here.-b. and make for the pavilion. Morris was the tenth case. "Morris is out. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. rather than confidence that their best. Berry. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. but it didn't. He breaks like sin all over the shop. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. Hullo. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. when done." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. It would have been a gentle canter for them. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. First ball. But Berridge survived the ordeal." said Burgess helpfully. "Thought the thing was going to break. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun.-w. "That chap'll have Berry. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. he said. if he doesn't look out. For goodness sake. for this or any ground." said Burgess blankly.-b. You must look out for that.-w. He thought it was all right. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. ." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. and not your legs. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. stick a bat in the way. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. Berry? He doesn't always break. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. On a bad the pavilion. A grim determination to do their best. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket." "Hear that. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. "L. hard condition." he said. He turned his first ball to leg for a single.

Ten for two was not good. and the second tragedy occurred." said Ellerby. Last man duck. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. He sent them down medium-pace. He started to play forward. He got up. Ellerby took off his pads. "The only thing is. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. Bob was the next man in.. He had then. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational." . The voice of the scorer. He was in after Bob.This brought Marsh to the batting end. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. if we can only stay in. he isn't. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride.. Mike was silent and thoughtful. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. Mike nodded. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. By George. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. broke it. "It's getting trickier every minute. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. but it was considerably better than one for two. With the score Freece. The last of the over had him in two minds. "This is all right. he was smartly at thirty. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece." he said. "One for two. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. The cloud began to settle again. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. The wicket'll get better. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. No. Bob's out!." Ellerby echoed the remark. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. jumping out to drive. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. stumped. but this the next ball. we might have a chance. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and took off his blazer.

5. 54. He was cool." said Ellerby. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. as if it were some one else's. Every little helps. . "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. _fortissimo_. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run." said Ellerby. If only somebody would knock him off his length. you silly ass. which was repeated. The melancholy youth put up the figures. Oh. on the board. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. "That's the way I was had. I believe we might win yet. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. When he had gone out to bat against the M. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "Good man. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. had fumbled the ball. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. Berridge was out by a yard. and had nearly met the same fate. Jackson. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. A howl of delight went up from the school. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. more by accident than by accurate timing." "Bob's broken his egg." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. when. There was no sense of individuality. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. 12. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off." said Mike. But now his feelings were different. and try and knock that man de Freece off." said Ellerby. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed.." said Mike.. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. Mike. He came to where Mike was sitting. the batsmen crossed. "Forty-one for four. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. The wicket-keeper. as Ellerby had done. "I'm going to shove you down one.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows." he said.. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied.C.C." "All right. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. however. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed.

and not short enough to take liberties with. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. and he had smothered them. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket.Fitness. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. It has nothing.-w. The ball hit his right pad. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. and whipped in quickly. But something seemed to whisper to him.-b. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. The next ball was of the same length. finer players. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. And Mike took after Joe. . and hit it before it had time to break. in school matches. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. The umpire shook his head. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. He felt that he knew where he was now. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. De Freece said nothing. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. considering his pace. or very little. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. and stepped back. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. that he was at the top of his batting form. a comfortable three. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. It pitched slightly to leg. Mike had faced half-left. Mike jumped out. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. He knew what to do now. They had been well pitched up. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. to do with actual health. Indeed. apparently. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. but this time off the off-stump. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. Joe would be in his element.

it was Ripton who were really in the better position. and the wicket was getting easier. that this was his day. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. "Sixty up. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. and made twenty-one. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank." said Berridge. To-day he never looked like settling down." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. he lifted over the other boundary.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. "Don't say that. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. in the pavilion. Practically they had only one. He had made twenty-six. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. and de Freece's pet googly." "You ass. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. Henfrey. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. for neither Ashe. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. He survived an over from de Freece. Apparently. His departure upset the scheme of things. He might possibly get out off his next ball. or he's certain to get out. But Mike did not get out. nor Grant. but he was full of that conviction. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. was a promising rather than an effective bat. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. (Two years later. a half-volley to leg. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. however. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. The last ball of the over. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. to a hundred. . when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. mainly by singles. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. he made a lot of runs. Mike could see him licking his lips. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. In the present case. thence to ninety. It was a long-hop on the off. but he was uncertain. At a hundred and four. the next man in." said Ellerby. For himself he had no fear now. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. And. and so. the score mounted to eighty. He had an excellent style. There was nervousness written all over him. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs.

Forty to win! A large order. and he would have been run out. The next over was doubly sensational. It rolled in the direction of third man.. I shall get outed first ball. But each time luck was with him. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account." he whispered. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. and a school prefect to boot." "All right. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. but this happened now. The fast bowler. But he did not score." said Mike. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. but even so. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. "For goodness sake. it all but got through Mike's defence. But it was going to be done. and it was possible to take liberties. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. and set his teeth. . "Come on. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. The last ball of the over he mishit. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. Could he go up to him and explain that he.He was not kept long in suspense. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. As it was. announced that he had reached his fifty. Another fraction of a second. taken up a moment later all round the ground. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. But the sixth was of a different kind. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. "Over. Jackson. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in." said the umpire.. or we're done.. was well-meaning but erratic. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. Mike took them. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. The wicket was almost true again now. "collar the bowling all you know." shouted Grant. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. he stopped it.

Brother of the other one. A great stillness was over all the ground. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. There were still seven runs between them and victory. and the bowling was not de Freece's." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. Devenish's face was a delicate grey." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. * * * * * "Good game. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. rough luck on de Freece. A bail fell silently to the ground. and touched the off-stump. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. For four balls he baffled the attack. Grant looked embarrassed. Mike had got the bowling. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Point and the slips crowded round. The school broke into one great howl of joy." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. but determined. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN .That over was an experience Mike never forgot. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. The fifth curled round his bat. I say. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. It was young Jackson. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. by the way?" "Eighty-three. The next moment the crisis was past." continued he." said Maclaine." "The funny part of it is. and rolled back down the pitch. Mike's knees trembled. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. It was an awe-inspiring moment." said Maclaine. He bowled rippingly. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over.

" explained Gladys Maud. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "There's a letter from Wyatt. through the bread-and-milk. He's been wounded in a duel. had settled down to serious work. bush-ray. who had duly secured the stakes. Jackson) had resulted. "Is there?" said Mike. "Bush-ray. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. Jackson was reading letters." began Gladys Maud. conversationally." . "Bush-ray." added Phyllis. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. Jackson. "Bushrangers. Mrs. Mike read on. including Gladys Maud." "With a bushranger. "Sorry I'm late. "He gives no details." "I wish Mike would come and open it." she shouted. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres." He opened the letter and began to read. referred to in a previous chapter." said Marjory. The Jacksons were breakfasting. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. in a victory for Marjory. bush-ray. Mr. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. The rest. "Buck up. Mike's place was still empty. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt." said Mr. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. interested. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. but was headed off. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. but expects to be fit again shortly. The hour being nine-fifteen. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. Mike.It was a morning in the middle of September." said Ella. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper." said Phyllis.

and missed him clean every time. so he came to us and told us what had happened. Missed the first shot. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. I say. After a bit we overtook him. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. and his day's work was done." said Mike. it was practically a bushranger. I picked it up. and so it was. "I told you it was a duel. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. and go through that way. Well. Chester was unconscious.. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. he wanted to ride through our place. which has crocked me for the time being. So this rotter." said Phyllis. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. and loosed off. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. I got going then. and it was any money on the Gaucho. That's the painful story. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk.. a good chap who can't help being ugly. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder.. summing up."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. "Anyhow. proceeded to cut the fence. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. We nipped on to a couple of horses. and coming back. This is what he says.. Hurt like sin afterwards. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these." said Marjory. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. an Old Wykehamist. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. but it turned out it was only his leg. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. instead of shifting off. pulled out our revolvers. and that's when the trouble began. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. and dropped poor old Chester. Only potted him in the leg. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths.. and I were dipping sheep close by. It happened like this. which had fallen just by where I came down. Here you are. Jackson. and tooled after him. "No.. I thought he was killed at first. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. A chap called Chester. Jackson. He fired as we came up. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . so excuse bad writing. so I shall have to stop.

Blake used to write when you were in his form. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. She was fond of her other brothers. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. and did the thing thoroughly. Jackson had disappeared. "I'm a bit late. "I say." "He didn't mean it really. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. even for Joe. jumping up as he entered. Mrs. It's the first I've had from Appleby." Marjory was bustling about. Mike." said Marjory. as Mr. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. Jackson had gone into the kitchen." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Mike. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame." she said. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. "Your report came this morning. looked on in a detached sort of way. the meal was nearly over. When he came down on this particular morning. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. Mr." said Mike philosophically. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table." she said. though for the others. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. Father didn't say anything. fetching and carrying for Mike. "Hullo." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. but Mike was her favourite. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam." Mike seemed concerned." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. as she always did. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. as usual. that's a comfort. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. He looked up interested. she would do it only as a favour.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. But he was late." "No." . "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. taking his correspondence with him. She had adopted him at an early age. while Marjory. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody.

" he said. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. He had always had the style. He liked the prospect. was not returning next term. It was early in the Easter holidays. Mike. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. "you'll make a century every match next term. Why. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. who treated his sons as companions. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two.C." Mike's jaw fell slightly. Saunders. At night sometimes he would lie awake. As he was walking towards the house." "Where?" "He's in the study. He had filled out in three years. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. and Mike was to reign in his stead. Let's go and see. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. She was kept busy." "What for?" "I don't know. was delighted. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. however. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. Phyllis met him."What ho!" interpolated Mike. By the way." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. indeed. father wants you. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. on the arrival of Mr." was his muttered exclamation. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . but already he was beginning to find his form.C." Henfrey. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. "Oh. I've been hunting for you. Mr. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. it's a beastly responsibility. "You _are_. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. Master Mike. Everybody says you are. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. From time to time. minor match type. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. appalled by the fear of losing his form. Jackson was an understanding sort of man." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. He seems--" added Phyllis. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out." "I wish I wasn't. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. "in a beastly wax. I wonder if he's out at the net now. and now he had the strength as well.

" replied Mr. both in and out of school. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor." "Here are Mr. Jackson in measured tones. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering." said Mr. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings.'" "It wasn't anything really. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. not once. father?" said Mike." said his father." "'Mathematics bad." "Oh. and Mr. "Come in. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. Greek.'" "We were doing Thucydides. "I want to speak to you. It was on this occasion that Mr. what is more. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. skilled in omens. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. Mike. kicking the waste-paper basket.previous term.'" quoted Mr. with a sort of sickly interest. "It is." Mike. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. "I want you to listen to this report. "your report. very poor. Jackson. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "'French bad." "Oh. Jackson was a man of his word. that Jackson entered the study." "'Latin poor. . is that my report. "'His conduct. Book Two. Inattentive and idle. but on several occasions. scented a row in the offing. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. Jackson. he paused. There followed an awkward silence. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. therefore.

and there was an end of it. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. pure and simple." he said. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. "I shall abide by what I said. Mr." was his next remark. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. birds were twittering. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. He understood him. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. and Mr. Mike said nothing." Mike's heart thumped.' There is more to the same effect. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. a silent. when he made up his mind. Mr. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk." Mr. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. but it has one merit--boys work there. Mike's point of view was plain to him. and for that reason he said very little now. but still blithely). What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. perhaps." he said blankly. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Jackson was sorry for Mike. or their Eight to Bisley. "I am sending you to Sedleigh." Barlitt was the vicar's son. He did not approve of it. He knew it would be useless. He understood cricket. spectacled youth who did not enter . He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. The tragedy had happened. his father. "It is not a large school. Mike?" said Mr. Jackson.

" said the porter. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. Also the boots he wore. opened the door. sir. but not much conversation had ensued. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. got up. for instance." "Right. sir. sir. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. sir. sir. George!" "I'll walk. bustling up. Hi." said Mike. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. sorrier for himself than ever. thanks. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. "Young gents at the school." "Thank you. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. Mike said nothing. and the man who took his ticket. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. seeing the name of the station. He disliked his voice. A sombre nod. The future seemed wholly gloomy. It's straight on up this road to the school. He thought. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. sir. It was such . "Mr. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. pulled up again. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. his appearance. "It's a goodish step." "Worse luck. and Mike. It's waiting here. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter." added Mr. He walked off up the road. Mike nodded. You can't miss it. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. and the colour of his hair. "For the school. and said. And. sir?" inquired the solitary porter." "Here you are. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. Barlitt's mind was massive.very largely into Mike's world. sir. so far from attempting to make the best of things. Then he got out himself and looked about him." said Mike frigidly. He hated the station. "So you're back from Moscow. Jackson.

He inquired for Mr. Burgess. too. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. who would be captain in his place. and was shown into a room lined with books. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. but he was not to be depended upon. and knocked. Wrykyn." . now that he was no longer there. but almost as good. And now. if he survived a few overs. Mike went to the front door. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. sir. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. He had never been in command. Once he crossed a river. the return by over sixty points. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own.absolutely rotten luck. Presently the door opened. This must be Sedleigh. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Now it might never be used. from the top of a hill. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. on top of all this. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. might make a century in an hour. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Enderby. There were three houses in a row. at that. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. Strachan was a good. would be weak this year. Outwood. Outwood. free bat on his day. Outwood's. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. and the house-master appeared. "Yes. and. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. But it was not the same thing. and had lost both the Ripton matches. About now. Which was the bitter part of it. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. It was soon after this that he caught sight. And as captain of cricket. going in first. The football fifteen had been hopeless. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. "Jackson?" he said mildly. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Outwood's was the middle one of these.

As Mike entered. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. That sort of idea. then. What's yours?" . All alone in a strange school. he spoke. Jackson. in Shropshire. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. good-bye. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. Ambrose. "Hullo. Quite so. It will well repay a visit. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. It was a little hard. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. My name. He spoke in a tired voice." said Mike. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. standing quite free from the apse wall. Bishop Geoffrey. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. where they probably played hopscotch. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. "is Smith. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. I think you might like a cup of tea. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. Quite so."I am very glad to see you. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. Oh. that's to say. You come from Crofton. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. Jackson. finding his bearings. his gloom visibly deepened. said he had not. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. I understand. with chamfered plinth. yes. and fixed it in his right eye. In many respects it is unique. sir?" "What? Yes. You will find the matron in her room. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays." said the immaculate one." he added pensively." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. was leaning against the mantelpiece. A very long. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. thin youth. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. Jackson. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. Good-bye for the present. He strayed about. "Hullo. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. "Take a seat. A Nursery Garden in the Home. But this room was occupied. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags." he said. Personally. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. very glad indeed.

" said Mike. Sedleigh gains." "But why Sedleigh. By the way. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. the name Zbysco. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. so I don't know. then?" "Yes! Why. everybody predicting a bright career for me. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. "but I've only just arrived." "No?" said Mike. I shall found a new dynasty. We now pass to my boyhood. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. I was superannuated last term. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. too. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. When I was but a babe. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. . yes. "Let us start at the beginning. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. the P not being sounded. "No. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. the Pride of the School. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. But. But what Eton loses. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. and got it." said Psmith solemnly. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). and see that I did not raise Cain. Cp. before I start. "Are you the Bully. "it was not to be." "Bad luck. If you ever have occasion to write to me. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." he resumed. See?" Mike said he saw. and I don't care for Smythe." said Mike. I was sent to Eton. At an early age. or simply Smith." "For Eton. for choice. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. Sit down on yonder settee." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. See? There are too many Smiths. there's just one thing. "My infancy.

who told my father. There's a libel action in every sentence. The son of the vicar. "You have heard my painful story. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. We are companions in misfortune. Outwood. and so on. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. "hangs a tale. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening." "Wrykyn. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. You work for the equal distribution of property. who told our curate. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. Comrade Jackson. but a bit too thick for me. who told our vicar. And." . Jawed about apses and things. It's a great scheme. run by him. Now tell me yours. He could almost have embraced Psmith." said Psmith."That was the man. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports." said Psmith. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. we fall. prowling about. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. You ought to be one. The vicar told the curate. dusting his right trouser-leg." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. We are practically long-lost brothers. will you? I've just become a Socialist. We must stick together. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. Divided. Sheep that have gone astray. mark you. There's an Archaeological Society in the school." "And thereby. Bit off his nut. A noble game. You won't mind my calling you Comrade." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten." "I am with you. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. To get off cricket. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. together we may worry through. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. laddie. Cheer a little. Lost lambs. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. It goes out on half-holidays.

We shall thus improve our minds. A chap at Wrykyn." said Psmith approvingly." said Psmith. "'Tis well. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. and get our names shoved down for the Society." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. looking out over the school grounds. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. and have a jolly good time as well. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. It was a biggish room. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. we will go out of bounds. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. This is practical Socialism. at any rate." he said. as it were." They went upstairs." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. Let's go and look. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. and one not without its meed of comfort." said Mike. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood." he said. "This'll do us well."I'm not going to play here." said Mike. and a looking-glass. We will snare the elusive fossil together. called Wyatt. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. "We will. There were a couple of deal tables. two empty bookcases. Above all. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. Psmith opened the first of these." "Then let's beat up a study. "Stout fellow." "Good idea. was one way of treating the situation. You and I." "Not now. I suppose they have studies here." . We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. "is the exact programme. and do a bit on our own account. hung on a nail. and straightening his tie." "It would take a lot to make me do that. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. "Might have been made for us. We must stake out our claims. Psmith approved the resolve. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. hand in hand.

A rattling at the handle followed. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them." A heavy body had plunged against the door." said Psmith sympathetically. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. I wonder. Similarly. though." "These school reports. not ours. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. sits down. if you want to be really useful. was rather a critic than an executant. Do you think you could make a long arm. Hullo. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. That putrid calendar must come down. It's got an Etna and various things in it. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. somebody comes right in. There are moments when one wants to be alone. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed." said Psmith. and begins to talk about himself. could you. the first thing you know is. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. What's this." said Psmith. "Privacy. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. We make progress. He was full of ideas. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. though the idea was Psmith's. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out." . We make progress. as he watched Mike light the Etna." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn." said Mike. I had several bright things to say on the subject. And now. "The weed. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. and a voice outside said. "are the very dickens. "You couldn't make a long arm. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it."His misfortune. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike.

you find strange faces in the familiar room. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. on arrival." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. "It's beastly cheek." said Psmith." "My name's Spiller. "you stayed on till the later train. "to restore our tissues after our journey. we Psmiths." he repeated. Your father held your hand and said huskily. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly." said Psmith. "It's beastly cheek. We keep open house. Edwin!' And so. He went straight to the root of the matter. perhaps. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. practical order. put up his eyeglass." "But we do.Mike unlocked the door." said Psmith. 'Edwin. and screamed. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. "What the dickens. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours." inquired the newcomer. "In this life. Spiller evaded the question. Come in and join us. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. and flung it open. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible." said Psmith. a people that know not Spiller. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. all might have been well. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. it's beastly cheek." said he. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. we must be prepared for every emergency. 'Don't go. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. and this is my study. freckled boy. Homely in appearance. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. Comrade Spiller. 'Edwin. and said. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. and. deeply affected by his recital. It is unusual for people to go about the place . but one of us. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi)." Psmith went to the table. that's what I call it. I am Psmith. "Well. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. But no. A stout fellow. and cheered himself with a sip of tea.

"Ah. "All I know is. it's my study. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. you are unprepared. Error! Ah. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. . the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. we know. sir. "And Smith. By no means a scaly project." "Not an unsound scheme. 'I couldn't. and we stopped dead." The trio made their way to the Presence. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once." "Look here. "are you going to take? Spiller. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. the man of Logic. The thing comes on you as a surprise. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. Psmith particularly debonair." said Psmith. One's the foot-brake. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect.bagging studies. I'm going to have it. and I'm next on the house list." "We'll see what Outwood says about it." "Spiller's. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. 'Now we'll let her rip.' Take the present case. and Jackson." said Psmith. and the other's the accelerator. But what of Spiller." he said. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. It was Simpson's last term. of course. 'I wouldn't. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. Spiller.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. Mr. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. We may as well all go together. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. Mike sullen. Spiller. He hummed lightly as he walked. Spiller. He cannot cope with the situation. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression." Mr. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter." "But what steps. so. Spiller pink and determined. As it is.' he said. let this be a lesson to you. and skidded into a ditch. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in.' So he stamped on the accelerator. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. and Simpson's left.

Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. Smith. Most delighted. This enthusiasm is most capital." "There is no vice in Spiller. Outwood beamed. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. sir--" said Spiller. games that left him cold. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. "His heart is the heart of a little child." "Please. he is one of our oldest members." "Oh. never had any difficulty in finding support. We have a small Archaeological Society. I--er--in a measure look after it. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." said Psmith sadly." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. very pleased indeed. too!" Mr." "Ah. sir. Smith. not at all. sir." pursued Psmith earnestly. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." Mr." "Undoubtedly. Spiller. quite so. were in the main earnest. I am very pleased. A grand pursuit." "Jackson. Archaeology fascinates me. two miles from the school. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. sir. sir--" began Spiller. "that accounts for it. Cricket and football." "Please. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. if you were not too busy."Er--quite so. This is capital." "And Jackson's. while his own band. sir. Smith. "Yes. Downing. "I am delighted. I will put down your name at once. "I understand." . "One moment. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. "One moment." "Spiller. Smith." said Psmith. Do you want to join. His colleague. sir--" said Spiller. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. sir. "I have been unable to induce to join. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Mr. Spiller. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday." "Not at all. tolerantly. Boys came readily at his call. Mr. sir." said Psmith. "Yes. though small. sir." he said. Is there anything----" "Please. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." he said at last. Smith?" "Intensely.

" said Psmith. "is very. Edwin." "Capital!" "Please. Smith. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. Spiller. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE ." said Psmith. sir. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. You should have spoken before. sir. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. "There is just one other matter. sir. Spiller. sir." "All this sort of thing. I come next after Simpson. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. A very good idea. sir. Spiller. as they closed the door." he said. Fight against it. sir. sir--" said Spiller. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. An excellent arrangement. sir. "is your besetting fault." said Mike. Outwood. "One moment. sir. Smith." "Certainly. Quite so. We will move our things in. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. if you could spare the time. Spiller. always be glad to see Spiller in our study." "Yes." "Quite so. sir. Correct it. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. Smith. "Please." "But. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith." "Thank you very much. "This tendency to delay. "We should." He turned to Mr." "Quite so. of course. very trying for a man of culture."We shall be there. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." "Thank you very much." shouted Spiller.

"We will now." As they got up. he would not have appreciated it properly. "We ought to have known each other before. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. . Here we are in a stronghold. but we must rout him out once more. but we can't stay all night." "_And_. I say." "The loss was mine." Psmith eyed Mike with approval." said Psmith courteously. Smith. "about when we leave this room. they can only get at us through the door." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off." said Psmith." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. face the future for awhile. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. though." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. there is nothing he can deny us." he said." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study." "And jam a chair against it. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. "The difficulty is." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. we're all right while we stick here. We are as sons to him. I mean. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. as you rightly remark. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories." Mike was finishing his tea. I don't like rows. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. the door handle rattled again. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be." he said with approval. and we can lock that. Comrade Jackson. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. jam a chair against it. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. with your permission. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home."There are few pleasures. and this time there followed a knocking." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point.

"is cursing you like anything downstairs. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature." said Mike." "Sturdy common sense." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. with." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." said Psmith. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. "If you move a little to the left. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." said Psmith." said Psmith approvingly." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. "I just came up to have a look at you." giggled Jellicoe. in his practical way." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." "As I suspected. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. say." Mike unlocked the door. only it belongs to three ." sighed Psmith. _I_ think Spiller's an ass." he explained." "Old Spiller." said Psmith." "How many _will_ there be." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. not more. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "Let us parley with the man. for instance. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. then?" asked Mike. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." said Psmith. "He might get about half a dozen. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike.

We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim." said Psmith." he said. Better leave the door open.chaps. "That door." he said." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. Jellicoe and myself. sir. Things. crowding ." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. Ah." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down." "And we can have the room. Smith. "Yes. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." This time it was a small boy. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." said Psmith. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps." "You make friends easily. it will save trouble. as the messenger departed. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. The handle began to revolve again. I like to see it--I like to see it." "We were wondering." Mr. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. and some other chaps. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Comrade Spiller. sir----" "Not at all. I think. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Smith?" he said. "has sprung up between Jackson. come in. as they returned to the study. Smith." "And now. the others waited outside. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. if you would have any objection to Jackson." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. but shall be delighted to see him up here." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "are beginning to move.

There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. Comrade Spiller. "Who was our guest?" he asked. always. "We must act. Mike. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. was just in time to see Psmith." "We'll risk it. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. the first shot has been fired. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. was it? Well. Jellicoe giggled in the background." said Psmith approvingly." "You'll get it hot. Mike jumped to help. turning after re-locking the door. "Come on. the enemy gave back. the captive was already on the window-sill. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. and the handle. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. you chaps. the door. His was a simple and appreciative mind." cried Spiller suddenly. however. "A neat piece of work. and Mike." said Spiller. adjusting his tie at the the doorway. As Mike arrived. For a moment the doorway was blocked. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. This time. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. slammed the door and locked it. and then to stand by for the next attack. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. stepping into the room again. . Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. "Robinson." said Mike. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. "They'll have it down. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. but it was needless." A heavy body crashed against the door. I say. if you don't. "Look here." said Jellicoe. The dogs of war are now loose. instead of resisting. but Mike had been watching. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. swung open. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study.

It read: "Directly this is over." he said. Spiller's face was crimson." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. Spiller." said Mike. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. I shouldn't think. "No. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. we would be alone.Somebody hammered on the door. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. and have it out?" said Mike." "This." said Jellicoe." said Psmith." The passage was empty when they opened the door. Well. you'll only get it hotter if you don't." "Leave us. When they had been in the study a few moments. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once." said Mike. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy." "They won't do anything till after tea. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. but Psmith was in his element. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. "is exciting." Mike followed the advice. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. they were first out of the room. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. of course. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Jellicoe knocked at the door. "You'd better come out. and see what happens. but it can't go on." A bell rang in the distance. "Tea. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. you know. we will play the fixture on our own ground. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. "we shall have to go now. "There's no harm in going out. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. . nip upstairs as quickly as you can. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. leaning against the mantelpiece.

I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy." said Jellicoe. and disappeared again. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. And now." said Psmith. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. He never hears anything. but otherwise. he'll simply sit tight. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. As to the time when an attack might be expected. . he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. where Robinson also had a bed. It was probable. "only he won't. they rag him. deposed that Spiller."Quite right. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. Shall we be moving?" Mr." said Mike. "the matter of noise. Mr. "And touching. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter." said Psmith placidly. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. We shall be glad of his moral support." "Then I think. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. _ne pas_. that human encyclopaedia. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. well-conducted establishment. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. therefore. as predicted by Jellicoe. retiring at ten." said Psmith. closing the door.

'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. and a slight giggle." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. showed that Jellicoe. Subject to your approval. but far otherwise. "we will retire to our posts and wait. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. There were three steps leading down to it. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. "Dashed neat!" he said. Comrade Jellicoe. too. I have evolved the following plan of action. Comrade Jackson. I always ask myself on these occasions. especially if. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. "These humane preparations being concluded. listening. too. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. they may wait at the top of the steps. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. silence is essential."How about that door?" said Mike. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door." said Psmith. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. Mike was tired after his journey. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. If they have. . and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. If they have no candle. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. which is close to the door." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so." said Mike. He would then----" "I tell you what. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. directly he heard the door-handle turned. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. as on this occasion. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. had heard the noise. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. Napoleon would have done that. waiting for him. There was a creaking sound. then they'll charge forward and all will be well.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

probably smoking and going into low public-houses. shaking his head. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. I fear. "Now _he's_ cross. above all." said Mr. "Excellent." said Psmith. both in manner and appearance." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. I suppose you will both play. We are." "At any rate." sighed Psmith. and walked on. "I saw Adair speaking to you. But in my opinion it is foolery. Outwood last night." "A very wild lot." "I never loaf. "If you choose to waste your time." "We are." said Psmith." Mr. Scarcely had he gone. loafing habits. I suppose I can't hinder you. A short. It gets him into idle. I was referring to the principle of the thing. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. we went singing about the house. sir. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. not wandering at large about the country. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. I tell you I don't like it. nothing else. sir. sir. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. The more new blood we have. Downing vehemently. the better. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. with fervour. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys." "Good job. "I don't like it. a keen school. the Archaeological Society here. eh?" It was a master." "On archaeology. "I was not alluding to you in particular. to an excitable bullfinch. Comrade Outwood loves us. looking after him. We want keenness here. Archaeology is a passion with us. I want every boy to be keen. Let's go on and see what sort . When we heard that there was a society here. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. sir." Adair turned. sir. I like every new boy to begin at once." He stumped off. too. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started." said Psmith.

He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. and Stone was a good slow bowler. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. and Milton. and Wyatt. Numbers do not make good cricket. He did not repeat the experiment. Mike would have placed above him. Adair. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. after . when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. after watching behind the nets once or twice. mostly in Downing's house. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. by the law of averages. Lead me to the nearest net.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. It was on a Thursday afternoon. Any sort of a game. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. Stone and Robinson themselves. to begin with._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. He was not a Burgess." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. but there were some quite capable men. The batting was not so good. There were other exponents of the game. in his three years' experience of the school. It couldn't be done. There were times. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. when the sun shone. Altogether. Barnes. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. was a mild. What made it worse was that he saw. that swash-buckling pair. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. And now he positively ached for a game. the head of Outwood's. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. were both fair batsmen. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. was a very good bowler indeed. "I _will_ be good.

even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. "This net. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. could stand it no longer. He went up to Adair. Psmith approached Mike. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. "What?" he said. Mr. and he patronised ruins. for Mr. he would have patronised that. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. and brood apart for awhile. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. and was trying not to show it. Let us find some shady nook where a . Psmith. to be absolutely accurate. let us slip away. Mike. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. This is the real cricket scent. Mike repeated his request. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. but patronising. "Having inspired confidence. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. was the first eleven net. More abruptly this time. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. He was embarrassed and nervous. He was amiable. proved but a poor substitute for cricket." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. and kept them by his aide." "Over there" was the end net. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. give me the pip. Roman camps. Mike walked away without a word." it may be observed. "by the docility of our demeanour. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. "Go in after Lodge over there. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet." said Adair coldly. The day was warm. from increased embarrassment. He patronised "This is the first eleven net. seemed to enjoy them hugely. He looked up. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. as he sat there watching." he said. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp.

" he said. unless you have anything important to say. I can tell you. but he could not place him." said Psmith. and closed his eyes. broad young man with a fair moustache. on acquaintance. "and no farther. Comrade Jackson. Mike would have carried on." And Psmith. above all. "Thus far. Call me in about an hour. they always liked him. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. We will rest here awhile. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. and. Mine are like some furrowed field. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Looking back. He was a short. Ah. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over may lie on his back for a bit. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "A fatiguing pursuit. for the Free Foresters last summer. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. and sitting down. and began to bark vigorously at him. Mike liked dogs. and they strolled away down the hill. He came back to where the man was standing. dancing in among my . "I played against you. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. finding this a little dull." Mike. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. this looks a likely spot." said Psmith. offered no opposition. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. "I was just having a look round. and then. At the further end there was a brook. He was too late. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other." "The dickens you--Why. and listen to the music of the brook. In passing. Their departure had passed unnoticed. "And. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. I rather think I'll go to sleep. Mike sat on for a few minutes. In fact. and began to explore the wood on the other side. jumped the brook. In the same situation a few years before. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. and trusted to speed to save him. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. he got up. lay down.

" "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. but I could nip back. You made fifty-eight not out. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. By the way. "Only village." "That's all right. if you want me to. Look here. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." "I'm frightfully sorry." "I'll play on a rockery.nesting pheasants. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now." said Mike. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked." "I'll give you all you want. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather." "Thanks. * * * * * . There's a sign-post where you turn off. only cover dropped it." he concluded. I'll tell you how it is. you know. you see. It's just off the London road." And he told how matters stood with him. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. "I hang out down here. You're Prendergast. I'm simply dying for a game. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. We all start out together. turning to the subject next his heart. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. "So." "I'll lend you everything. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. Very keen. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. but no great shakes. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. He began to talk about himself." "You ought to have had me second ball. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. By Jove. I say.

Mr. and the most important. It was. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. will you? I don't want it to get about. for a village near here. fussy. If you like the game. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. but it was a very decent substitute. punctuated at intervals by crises. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. Downing." * * * * * That Saturday. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . and it grew with further acquaintance. though he would not have admitted it. on being awakened and told the news. To Mike. indeed." One of the most acute of these crises. "I'm going to play cricket. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. employed doing "over-time. Downing. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. to enjoy himself. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. and Mr. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. life can never be entirely grey. sleepily. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. Cricket I dislike." "My lips are sealed. Downing. I say. never an easy form-master to get on with. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. M. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. I think I'll come and watch you. pompous. As time went on. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. Jackson. don't tell a soul. It was not Wrykyn. To Mr. Downing's special care. Mike began."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye.

* * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. and a particular friend of Mike's. much in request during French lessons. The proceedings always began in the same way. was the Sedleigh colour. light-hearted dog with a white coat. and under the captain a vice-captain. short for Sampson. had joined young and worked their way up. or Downing." Red. an engaging expression. and was apparently made of india-rubber. who. Downing pondered "Red. These two officials were those sportive allies. held up his hand. "One moment. the tongue of an ant-eater. Downing's form-room. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. To-day they were in very fair form. We will now proceed to the painful details. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr.esteem of Mr. As soon as Mr. Stone. sir?" asked Stone. who looked on the Brigade in the right. He was a large. He had long legs. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. Under them were the rank and file. In passing. The rest were entirely frivolous. At its head was Mr. The Brigade was carefully organised. about thirty in all." . After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. a sort of high priest. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. a tenor voice. Wilson. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. Sammy was the other. Wilson?" "Please. under him was a captain. Sammy. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. with a thin green stripe. sir. Downing had closed the minute-book. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. spirit. To show a keenness for cricket was good. Outwood. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. sir. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. with green stripes. of Outwood's house. Stone and Robinson. Downing. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. Downing. "Well. Downing. of the School House. "Shall I put it to the vote. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw.

couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. Downing banged on his desk. "Sit down!" he said. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. Downing rapped irritably on his desk." "Please. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. and the meeting had divided. of course." . if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. listen to me. Mr. sit down--Wilson. sir."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. sir. We cannot plunge into needless expense. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. Stone. "I don't think my people would be pleased." said Stone. please. "Silence!" "Then. get back to your place." "Please. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. Wilson?" "Please. sir. the danger!" "Please. Stone. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. out of the question. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir." A scuffling of feet. Mr. of course. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. sir. Well." said Robinson. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. sir. perfectly preposterous. sir-r-r!" "But. those against it to the right. sir. The whole strength of the company: "Please.

sir?" asked Mike. Downing smiled a wry smile. And. We must have keenness. Wilson!" "Yes." "What _sort_ of noise. Downing. leave the room!" "Sir. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. Jackson. "I think it's something outside the window. "Our Wilson is facetious. sir-r-r. sir. "It's outside the door. sir?" said a voice "off. I'm not making a whining noise. sir? No. puzzled. "May I fetch a book from my desk." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in." as he reached the door. sir?" asked Mike. Those near enough to see. "Noise." A pained "OO-oo-oo. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. mingled with cries half-suppressed. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall." he remarked frostily. "Very well--be quick. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat." said Robinson. He was not alone. Downing. I want you boys above all to be keen. there must be less of this flippancy. sir." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. "A bird.Mr. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. we are busy. The muffled cries grew more distinct. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. Downing. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth." said Stone helpfully. sir!" "This moment." he said. as many Wrykynians . sir. "do me one hundred lines. Wilson. _please_. Mr." was cut off by the closing door. sir?" inquired Mike. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. no. I think. "Sir.

the same! Go to your seat." "They are mowing the cricket field. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. all of you. "I do not propose. It was a stirring. Come in. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. It is a curious whining noise. Vincent. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation." added Robinson. Henderson. Downing's desk resembled thunder. go quietly from the room. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. Mr. I said. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. Downing shot out orders. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. sir." said the invisible Wilson. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. you will be severely punished. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. and was now standing. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. bustling scene. all shouted. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. rising from his place. What are you doing. threats. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. like Marius. "Perhaps that's it. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. Chaos reigned." put in Stone." said Mr. Some leaped on to forms. Downing acidly. if you do not sit down. among the ruins barking triumphantly. Mr. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. Jackson and Wilson." "Or somebody's boots." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. sit down! Donovan. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. sir. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. "They do sometimes." "Yes." Crash! . remain.had asked before him. Downing. The banging on Mr. sir. _Quietly_. others flung books. "Stone. "to imitate the noise.

"One hundred lines. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. sir. and paid very little for it. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. come here." said Mike. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines."Wolferstan. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. I had to let him go." The meeting dispersed. Mr. Jackson." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. but nevertheless a member. "Jackson and Wilson. sir. so I came in----" "And by a fluke." And Mr. it was true. Mike the dog. "Well. "You may go." "I tried to collar him. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . "that I had left my Horace in my desk. Go quietly from the room. We are a keen school. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. Jackson. Downing turned to Mike. everybody. and he came in after the rat. but Mr. so he came in." It was plain to Mr. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Mr. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. but when you told me to come in. frivolous at times. Also he kept wicket for the school. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. Jackson. sir. as one who tells of strange things. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered." he said." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. Wilson?" "Please. Downing walked out of the room." said Wilson. That will do. and had refused to play cricket. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. Wilson. too. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. I fear. Wilson had supplied the rat.

If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. if you like." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. Jellicoe came into the room. contemporary with Julius Caesar. Mike's heart warmed to them." "Oh. and got up. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. forgotten.They say misfortunes never come singly. I do happen to have a quid. so don't be shy about paying it back. he did. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. and welcomed the intrusion. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. You can freeze on to it. sorry. The fact is. Robinson on the table. the return match. They sat down." said Robinson. "As a matter of fact. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. Robinson was laughing.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. He felt that he. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. But it's about all I have got. I'm in a beastly hole. they should have it. as a matter of fact. "You're a sportsman. He was in warlike mood. asked for the loan of a sovereign. There was. it may be stated at once. by return of post. (Which. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. without preamble. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly." said Mike. done with. Stone beamed. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. and. after the Sammy incident. Mike put down his pen. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. "I say.

He got a hundred lines. "I got Saturday afternoon. and then they usually sober down. Masters were rather afraid of them. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. You can do what you like. and you never get more than a hundred lines. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. small and large. you could get into some sort of a team. They had a certain amount of muscle. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. They were useful at cricket. he now found them pleasant company. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread." "Don't you!" said Mike." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. They were absolutely free from brain. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. They go about. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. and began to get out the tea-things. As to the kind of adventure. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. a keen school." . they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. and a vast store of animal spirits. My pater took me away.public school. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging." said Stone.'" quoted Stone. above all. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. "Well. "are a rag. As for Mike. If you know one end of a bat from the other. "Were you sacked?" "No. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement." said Mike. Winifred's" brand. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket." "'We are. loud and boisterous.

Stone gaped. You don't get ordered about by Adair. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. "Why. W." "Masters don't play in house matches. We're playing Downing's." "Think of the rag. There are always house matches." said Mike." said Stone. "I've got an idea. "By Jove. Stone broke the silence. and knock the cover off him. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. "Enough for six. You _must_ play. do play. I say." agreed Robinson." "Adair sticks on side. I play for a village near here. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. for a start. "Why." . if I'd stopped on. Only a friendly. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. look here. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. My word. and the others?" "Brother. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat." said Robinson. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. but they always have it in the fourth week. Place called Little Borlock." There was a profound and gratifying sensation." said Stone. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. I was in the team three years. and I should have been captain this year." "What!" "Well. I say. "I did. yes. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup."Wrykyn?" said Robinson.

"Are you the M. "The list isn't up yet." he said. and make him alter it." said Mike." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. Mr. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. and a murmur of excited conversation. then. on his face the look of one who has seen visions." said Mike. He studied his _Wisden_. "I say. THEN. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. Most leap at the opportunity. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. I mean. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. Then footsteps returning down the passage. but to Mr. Barnes appeared. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. and when. Downing assumed it."But the team's full. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Mike was not a genuine convert." he said. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. quite unexpectedly." They dashed out of the room. Jackson. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. I was in the team. "I say. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop." "Yes. "Thanks awfully. It was so in Mike's case. JACKSON. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. . (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket.

* * * * * Barnes. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. 2 manner--the playful. timidly jubilant. and the request that Mike would go in first with him.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. Smith? You are not playing yourself. competition is fierce. Adair." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. "What!" he cried. the archaeologist of yesterday. in the way he took . for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. "We are. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. Downing's No. sir. with a kind of mild surprise." "In our house. "a keen house. above all. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. I notice. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. It was a good wicket. who was with Mike. where the nervous new boy. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. Mike. had naturally selected the best for his own match. Your enthusiasm has bounds. except for the creases. as captain of cricket. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. and which never failed to ruffle Mr." "Indeed. We are essentially versatile. becomes the cricketer of to-day. "I like to see it. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Drones are not welcomed by us. Mike saw. on the cricket field. contrives to get an innings in a game. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. Downing. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. working really hard. Jackson. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. sir. With Mike it was different. sir. It is the right spirit. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man." said Psmith earnestly. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type." he said. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots.

The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. Mike went out at it. This time the hope was fulfilled. A half-volley this time. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. they were disappointed. and mid-on. He had got a sight of the ball now. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. took three more short steps. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. Downing irritably. when delivered. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. Mike took guard. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. slow. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. and off the wicket on the on-side. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. Mike started cautiously. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. two long steps. The first over was a maiden. as several of the other games had not yet begun. He took two short steps. was billed to break from leg. but the programme was subject to alterations. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. failed to stop it. Downing's slows. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr." said Mr. and. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. Mr. in his stand at the wickets. Jenkins. and ended with a combination of step and jump. gave a jump. as the ball came . The last ball he turned to leg for a single.guard. but it stopped as Mr. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. The ball. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. Mike slammed it back. The ball was well up. six dangerous balls beautifully played. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. and he knew that he was good. The fieldsmen changed over. "Get to them. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. and dashed up against the rails. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets.

Downing would pitch his next ball short. please. it is usually as well to be batting. Adair came up. Scared by this escape. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. . waited in position for number four. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match." "Sir. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. in Adair's fifth over. there was a strong probability that Mr. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. if you can manage it. by three wides. and Mike. Downing bowled one more over. one is inclined to be abrupt. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. offering no more chances. This happened now with Mr. sat on the splice like a limpet. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. and bowling well. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. And a shrill small voice. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. Mike had then made a hundred and three. "Get to them. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. where. uttered with painful distinctness the words. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. The third ball was a slow long-hop. without the slightest success.back from the boundary. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. and the total of his side. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. in addition. The expected happened. and. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. Then he looked up. and then retired moodily to cover-point. Jenkins. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. Downing." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. Mr. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. By the time the over was finished.

There's a difference. Mr. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we ." said Stone. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. "No. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. too. and the school noticed it. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr." Adair was silent for a moment. Downing." There was a silence. "Above it. I said I wasn't going to play here. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. having got Downing's up a tree." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Three years. was met with a storm of opposition. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. Barnes's remark that he supposed. "Great Scott. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. Not up to it. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. am I?" said Mike. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. "That's just the gay idea. I suppose?" "Not a bit."I didn't say anything of the kind. won't they?" suggested Barnes. "I never saw such a chump. politely. "Sick! I should think they would. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. Of all masters. "Declare!" said Robinson. As a matter of fact. The result was that not only he himself. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. thanks. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair." There was another pause. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. "I'm not keeping you.

in one of which a horse. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. These are the things which mark epochs. playing himself in again. the small change. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. that directly he had topped his second century. or when one is out without one's gun. At four o'clock." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. And the rest. and Stone came out. fortified by food and rest. "Only you know they're rather sick already. Barnes. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. Mr." "Rather not. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. amidst applause." said Stone with a wide grin. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. greatly daring. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. In no previous Sedleigh match. each weirder and more futile than the last. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives." said Robinson. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot." "Don't you worry about that. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body." "So do I. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. passing in the road. "If you declare. mercifully. The first-change pair are poor. Games had frequently been one-sided. Time. going in first early in the morning. Bowlers came and went. Besides. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. after a full day's play. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks." said Barnes unhappily." "Well. Nor will Robinson. I swear I won't field. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. proceeded to get to business once more. it was assumed by the field. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. and that is what happened now.can. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. if I can get it. tried their luck. I won't then. Downing took a couple more overs. was bowling really well. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short.15.30. Adair. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. Play was resumed at 2. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. and Mike. But still the first-wicket stand continued.

. not out. J. but an excellent eye... sir." "It is perfect foolery. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. 124 . Downing.. First innings. "Capital.) A grey dismay settled on the field... Hammond... _c_. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was.." "He's very touchy.. You must declare your innings closed. He had an unorthodox style... Jackson...." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. a week later. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. and still Barnes made no sign. we can't unless Barnes does." Mr. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_... DOWNING'S _Outwood's.. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something..." said Stone. as was only natural.way. sir. was mounting steadily.." "Declare! Sir.. but his score. There was no reply. And now let's start _our_ innings. Mike's pace had become slower. too. Barnes... Hassall.. a slip of paper.. P.." "This is absurd. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic.. Lobs were being tried... A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room.. The game has become a farce. _b_." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. and the next over.. there was on view.. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. 277 W. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.. just above the mantelpiece... 33 M.. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him.. and Stone. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type.. But the next ball was bowled.. "Barnes!" he called." "Absurd. and the next after that. Stone._ J.... as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. not out.. Downing walked moodily to his place. as who should say. "I think Barnes must have left the field. as a matter of fact. "This is foolery. capital.. nearly weeping with pure joy... sir. "Barnes!" "Please." snapped Mr.

discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr..." "He doesn't deserve to." "I don't care." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. I should say that.. But your performance was cruelty to animals. touched me This interested Mike. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out... it's worth it. is. "the the place was crept to my side. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot... One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. if he had cared to take the part. Twenty-eight off one over. Psmith.... the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler.. I suppose.." he said. not to mention three wides. shifting his aching limbs in the chair..." said he. Comrade Jellicoe and. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket..." murmured Mike. could have been the Petted Hero. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair... On the other hand. in a small way.. would have made Job foam at the mouth... But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. leaning against the mantelpiece. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. "In an ordinary way... and Mike. "In theory. for three quid.. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. 471 Downing's did not bat. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week." . slipping his little hand in mine. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. In fact.. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.Extras. fagged as he was. Downing.. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). You will probably get sacked. Mike.. here and there.... even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little.. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind.. When all ringing with song and merriment...

There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. I hope. wrapped in gloom." * * * * * a log. He uttered no word for quite three minutes." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. he'll pay me back a bit. and then dropped gently off. "I say. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. ." "Nor can I. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. I can't get to sleep. as the best substitute for sleep. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays." There was a creaking. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. I'm pretty well cleaned out. Well. He wanted four. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. when he's collected enough for his needs. nothing." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. Jackson!" he said. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. It was done on the correspondence system. clinking sovereigns. "Are you asleep. the various points of his innings that day. who appeared to be to the conversation. I'm stiff all over. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast." Silence again."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. but he could not sleep. Psmith chatted for general.

"Jackson. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. And then you'd be sent into a bank. Why?" "Oh. "Hullo?" he said. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. and you'd go in." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. or something. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." "Hullo?" "I say." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject." "Happen when?" "When you got home. and wait." "Yes. I don't know. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. They might all be out. and you'd go out into the passage. as it were. and the servant would open the door. or to Australia. I meant. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. After being sacked. I expect. Then he spoke again. Have you got any sisters. But if you were. I suppose. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. He was not really listening. Especially my pater. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked." The bed creaked. Jackson? I say. "Nobody." "Everybody's would. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. in order to give verisimilitude. "My pater would be frightfully sick." Mike dozed off again. So would mine. and all that. and then you'd have to hang about. you know. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. and presently you'd hear them come in. My sister would be jolly sick. My mater would be sick. and you'd drive up to the house. too. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen.

Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. You'll wake Smith. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. He had some virtues and a good many defects. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody." "Any what?" "Sisters. But it's jolly serious." said Jellicoe eagerly." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. He resembled ninety per cent. "Do _what_?" "I say. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. This thing was too much. I asked if you'd got any." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. look out. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed."Me--Jellicoe. I shall get sacked if I don't get it." Mike pondered. Except on the cricket field. though people whom he liked ." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. where he was a natural genius. of other members of English public schools. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. already looking about him for further loans. He was as obstinate as a mule. Was it a hobby. do you?" "What!" cried Mike. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. "I say. he was just ordinary. He changed the subject.

CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. which had arrived that evening. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. And Mr. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. Downing and his house realised this. Finally. he was in detention. Where it was a case of saving a friend. Downing was a curious man in many ways. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. To begin with. . in addition. He was good-natured as a general thing. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. in his childhood. he had never felt stiffer in his life. In addition to this. stood in a class by itself. however. Downing to come. Yesterday's performance. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. where the issue concerned only himself. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. Mr. He had. And when he set himself to do this. It was a wrench. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Mr. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. The thought depressed him. It was a particularly fine day. which made the matter worse. That would probably be unpleasant. He was always ready to help people. but. He was rigidly truthful. Bob's postal order. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. it had to be done. The great match had not been an ordinary match. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. till Psmith. one good quality without any defect to balance it. there was the interview with Mr.could do as they pleased with him. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. who had a sensitive ear. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. Young blood had been shed overnight. and had. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. As Psmith had said. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat.

did with much success. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. that would not be dramatic enough for you. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. at sea. Downing. When a master has got his knife into a boy.Mr. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. "No. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. the skipper. he began in a sarcastic strain. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. that prince of raggers. sir. For sarcasm to be effective. sir. I have spoken of this before. You must act a lie. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. Just as. more elusive. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. It would be too commonplace altogether. Far too commonplace!" Mr. Downing came down from the heights with a run. the user of it must be met half-way. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir." "Well. when he has trouble with the crew. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. So Mr." "Please. of necessity. he was perfectly right. since the glorious day when Dunster. which was as a suit of mail against satire. sir. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. "You are surrounded. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. By the time he had reached his peroration. Mr. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. That is to say. Downing laughed bitterly. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. you must conceal your capabilities." concluded Mr. Mike. And. Which Mike. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. no. the speaker lost his inspiration. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. No. in the excitement of this side-issue. As events turned out. works it off on the boy. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. Macpherson. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. in their experience of the orator. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers.

"Awfully sorry. is not a little confusing. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried." "It's swelling up rather. he prodded himself too energetically. Jellicoe was cheerful. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. crouches down and trusts to luck." said Dunster." said Mike. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. a long youth. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. The average person. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. you know. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. Dunster." he groaned. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. puts his hands over his skull. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy." said Mike. "I shall have to be going in. . Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. man. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. Jellicoe hopping. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. and rather embarrassingly grateful. uttering sharp howls whenever. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. To their left. "slamming about like that. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. zeal outrunning discretion. "Silly ass. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. on hearing the shout. Mike had strolled out by himself. as they crossed the field." "I'll give you a hand. "or I'd have helped you over. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing the pitch. The bright-blazered youth walked up." "Awfully sorry. But I did yell.

"not Ulysses and the hound Argos." sighed Psmith. Hullo! another man out." "Old Smith and I. "You needn't be a funny ass." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. Before he got there he heard his name called. "were at a private school together." said Psmith." said Dunster. felt very much behind the times. and turning. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. Have a cherry?--take one or two. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. Mike made his way towards the pavilion." said Dunster. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. the darling of the crew." said the animal delineator. faithful below he did his duty." ." said Dunster." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. "more. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. Dunster gave dawg. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. Is anything irritating you?" he added. as he walked to the cricket field. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. The fifth ball bowled a man. Restore your tissues. pained. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. Well hit. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics." said Psmith. Mike. Comrade Jackson. "Return of the exile. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room." stirring sight when we met. "More. I notice. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. and when you have finished those. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to." "I heard about yesterday. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. apply again. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. I'd no idea I should find him here." "Alas. man. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever.

it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now." said Psmith. "it's too late." said Jellicoe gloomily. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. it'll keep till tea-time. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. "I mean. Hamlet had got it. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. "I say. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. "Oh! chuck it. do you?" he said. but probably only after years of patient practice." "Has he?" said Psmith." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" ." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. he felt disinclined for exertion. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. Personally. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. the sun was in my eyes." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted." "Don't dream of moving. Mike stretched himself. "I hadn't heard.C. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again." "I shall count the minutes."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. I shall get sacked. at last.C. not so much physical as mental. I need some one to listen when I talk. Soliloquy is a knack." said Psmith to Mike. I suppose. man. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. I like to feel that I am doing good. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M." said Psmith." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster.

"Oh. stout man." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol." said Jellicoe miserably. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. he was the wag of the village team." "Yes. "I say. Every village team." "It doesn't matter."It's about that money. He was a large. I'll get out of the house after lights-out." Jellicoe sat up. for some mysterious reason." "He's the chap I owe the money to." "I say. so I couldn't move. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. look here. do you think you could. "it can't be helped. Barley filled the post. called Lower Borlock. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. with a red and cheerful face. who looked . it can. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. it's as easy as anything." "I say. "I'm awfully sorry." "What absolute rot!" "But. it's frightfully decent of you." said Mike. has its comic man. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. only I got crocked." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. hang it!" he said." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught.

"You can manage that. "it's locked up at night. and be full of the milk he was quite different. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. but it did not occur to him to ask. another." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion." said Jellicoe. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer." "I'll get it from him. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. there was nothing strange in Mr. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. I think." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. He took the envelope containing the money without question. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. "I shall bike there. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. and if Jellicoe owed it. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. five pounds is a large sum of money. which was unfortunate. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness." "I say." he said. Probably in business hours After all. "if I can get into the shed." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. chuck it!" said Mike. I----" "Oh. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "All right. Besides. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . I won't tell him. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama.

He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. Mr. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. by the cricket field. Mike did not want to be expelled. "Yes. Mike would have been glad of a companion. . with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. "I forget which. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. "Why. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Probably he would have volunteered to come. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. sir?" said the boots.expulsion. I've given you the main idea of the thing. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. being wishful to get the job done without delay. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. too. until he came to the inn. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. However. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. which for the time being has slipped my memory. Still. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house." said Psmith. 'ullo! Mr. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. also. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. The advantage an inn has over a private house. The place was shut. communicating with the boots' room. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. of course. there you are. with whom early rising was not a hobby. Psmith had yielded up the key. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. for many reasons. "One of the Georges. which. Jackson was easy-going with his family. Jackson.

He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. read it. Barley. Jackson. and requested him to read it. "What's up?" he asked. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing." "I must see him. Jack. hoping for light." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "Dear. Barley opened the letter. Mr. "Well. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. but rather for a solemn. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. Jack. Mr. of course. if it's _that_--" said the boots. "Oh dear!" he said. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. who was waiting patiently by. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. Jackson. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. "You can pop off. . and wiped his eyes." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. and had another attack." "The five--" Mr." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. which creaked under him. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. I've got some money to give to him. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. thankful. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "Oh. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. Then he collapsed into a chair. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Barley. perhaps. and now he felt particularly fogged. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. dear!" chuckled Mr."I want to see Mr. the five pounds." Mr.

it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. Mike was . they are. in fact. BARLEY. Barley slapped his thigh. It would have been cruel to damp the man. simply in order to satisfy Mr. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. the affair of old Tom Raxley. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. I hope it is in time. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. it was signed "T. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. "Why. Mr. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. So Mike laughed perfunctorily.--"I send the £5. last Wednesday it were.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Barley slapped his leg. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. Mischief! I believe you. Mr. Barley's sense of humour. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Love us!" Mr. The other day. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Mike. since. about 'ar parse five. 'I'll have a game with Mr. So I says to myself. but to be placed in a dangerous position.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. "DEAR MR. finishing this curious document. and rode off on his return journey. G. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. and as sharp as mustard. and the damage'll be five pounds. Jellicoe." There was some more to the same effect. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. Aberdeen terriers. Jellicoe over this. but. "he took it all in. is another matter altogether. which I could not get before. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays." it ran. always up to it. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. Jane--she's the worst of the two." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it.

Outwood's front garden. his pursuer again gave tongue. however. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. Mike felt easier in his mind. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. The suddenness. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. and running. With this knowledge. that the voice had come. and. his foot touched something on the floor. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. carried on up the water-pipe. and as he wheeled his machine in. went out. after which he ran across to Outwood' find this out for himself. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. It was from the right-hand gate. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. as Mike came to the ground. nearest to Mr. As he did so. There were two gates to Mr. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. This he accomplished with success. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. It was pitch-dark in the shed. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. and locked the door. Sergeant Collard . Without waiting to discover what this might be. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. and through the study window. On the first day of term. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. of which the house was the centre. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. Downing's house. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. and gone to bed. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn.

with the sergeant panting in his wake. They passed the gate and went on down the road. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. Then the sound of footsteps returning. His thoughts were miles away. that he had been seen and followed. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. . for Mike heard it grate in the lock. The other appeared startled. turned aside. looking out on to the cricket field. as Mike. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. but. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. His programme now was simple. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. but he could not run. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. taking things easily. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. he was evidently possessed of a key. this was certainly the next best thing. passing through the gate. he sat on the steps. Meanwhile. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. Like Mike. Focussing his gaze. at Wrykyn. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). He left his cover. He would wait till a quarter past. and so to bed. turned into the road that led to the school. shoot up the water-pipe once more. Having arrived there. "Is that you. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. he supposed--on the school clock. but Time. increasing his girth. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride.was a man of many fine qualities. He would have liked to be in bed. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. His first impression. disappeared as the runner. if that was out of the question. this time at a walk. A sound of panting was borne to him. He ran on. instead of making for the pavilion. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. Then he would trot softly back. The pursuer had given the thing up. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour.

two ices. and washing the lot down with tea. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. So long. conveyed to him by Adair. that Mike. Jackson?" "What are you. was disturbed in his mind. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. He had despatched Adair for the doctor." Mike turned away. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. and. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. waiting for Adair's return. Downing." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. He was off like an . Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate."What are you doing out here. He would be safe now in trying for home again. with a cry of "Is that you. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. Downing emerged from his gate. half a cocoa-nut. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. aroused from his first sleep by the news. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. One of the chaps in our house is bad." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. He walked in that direction. The school clock struck the quarter. "I'm going for the doctor. Adair?" The next moment Mr. therefore. an apple. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. three doughnuts. But Mr. was a very fair stomach-ache. All that was wrong with MacPhee. at a range of about two yards. It came about. Adair rode off. as a matter of fact." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. Now it happened that Mr. and Mr. that MacPhee. After a moment's pause. whistling between his teeth. was now standing at his front gate. and a pound of cherries. Mike stood not upon the order of his going.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice." said Mr. A big boy. was not in the best of tempers. did want to smile. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. He had a cold in the head. It was not his . Mr. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. on the other hand." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. "Dear me!" he said. you think?" "I am certain of it." "No. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. taking advantage of the door being open. I suppose not. only. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown." Mr. instead of running about the road. you say?" "Very big. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. Downing. He received the housemaster frostily. "He--he--_what_. Downing. escaped and rushed into the road." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. deeply interested. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. in spite of his strict orders. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. The headmaster. no." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. Mr. whoever he was. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. he wanted revenge. The Head. who. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. "One of the boys at the school. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. he went straight to the headmaster.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. He did not want to smile.

whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. "Not actually in. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. and Fate. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. of Outwood' and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on." "Impossible. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. if he wanted the criminal discovered. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. but without result. broke into a wild screech of laughter. Downing. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. Outwood. Mr. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. he would have to discover him for himself. Downing was not listening. Outwood who helped him. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. and passed it on to Mr. I think." Which he did. It was Mr. unidentified. had seen. as far as I understand. and all the boys were asleep--all of them.. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. not to mention cromlechs. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. at the time. with the exception of Johnson III. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Downing as they walked back to lunch. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. It was only . Downing was left with the conviction that. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely." Mr. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. Oh yes. Downing. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. who. Downing. gave him a most magnificent start. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. and Mr. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. the rest was comparatively easy. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe.

" "Ah!" . after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. sergeant?" "No. Feeflee good at spottin'. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. "Oo-oo-oo. "I did. sir. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. "Mr. sir. yer young monkey. Regardless of the claims of digestion. he used to say. Downing arrived." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. I did." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. Outwood. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. Downing. sir. yer. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. sir. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. Dinner was just over when Mr. ejecting the family. which the latter was about to do unasked. In due course Mr." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. "tells me that last night. sir. found himself at liberty. I am. "Did you catch sight of his face. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. Oo-oo-oo. sir. as a blind man could have told. Downing stated his case. Dook of Connaught. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. sergeant. he rushed forth on the trail. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard." he said. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. in order to ensure privacy. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself." he said. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. sir--spotted 'im.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. Having requested his host to smoke. but it finishes in time.' he used to say. Mr.

and exhibited clearly. "It was undoubtedly the same boy." added the sergeant. rested his feet on the table." "I hope not. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." "So do I. sergeant. having requested Mrs. Downing rose to go." "Good-afternoon to you. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. Outwood's house. the result of luck. with a label attached. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. sir. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. on Wednesday."Bare-'eaded. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. and dusted. Good afternoon." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully." And Mr. to a very large extent." he said.C." "Pray do not move." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. rubbing the point in. The school plays the M. success in the province of detective work must always be." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. sir. sir. sir." Mr. . put a handkerchief over his face. Very hot to-day. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. but it was a dark night. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. if he persisted in making so much noise. "Good-afternoon. 'cos yer see. sir. "I will find my way out. "Well. sergeant. while Sergeant Collard. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead.C. and slept the sleep of the just. sergeant.

his sympathy for Dr. we should have been just as dull ourselves. but even if there had been only one other. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. now that he had started to handle his own first case. how--?" and all the rest of it. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. if he only knew. Outwood's house. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. requested that way peculiar to some boys. of course. only a limited number of boys in Mr. tight-lipped smiles. There were. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. Mr. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. and his methods. But if ever the emergency does arise. Probably. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet.The average man is a Doctor Watson. If you go to a boy and say. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. shouting to him to pick them up. Mr. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. but. and leaves the next move to you. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. unless you knew who had really done the crime. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. it would have complicated matters. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. there were clues lying all over the place. he thought. this time in the shape of Riglett. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. We should simply have hung around. just as the downtrodden medico did. even and. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. All these things passed through Mr. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. to detect anybody. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. It certainly was uncommonly hard. What he wanted was a clue. a junior member of his house. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. Watson increased with every minute. when Fate once more intervened. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. as a matter of fact. It is practically Stalemate. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. "Sir. saying: "My dear Holmes. having capped Mr. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention." the boy does not reply. As he brooded over the case in hand. but.

that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. walking delicately through dry places. Then Mr. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. Then suddenly. Much thinking had made him irritable. Downing unlocked the door. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . It was the ground-man's paint. and finally remarked. now coughed plaintively. Downing. Downing remembered. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Paint. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. Give Dr. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Mr. and he is a demon at the game. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. and made his way to the shed. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. A foot-mark. Your careful detective must consider everything. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. however. stood first on his left foot. Watson could not have overlooked." he said. blushed. extracted his bicycle from the rack. The air was full of the pungent scent. A foot-mark! No less. "Get your bicycle. Downing. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. to be considered. Watson a fair start. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field.bicycle from the shed. Downing saw it. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. What he saw at first was not a Clue. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. In the first place. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett." Riglett. He felt for his bunch of keys. Riglett. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. "Pah!" said Mr. but just a mess. he saw the clue. Red paint. Mr. Mr. And this was a particularly messy mess. Downing. Downing to mundane matters. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. "and be careful where you tread. Yoicks! There were two things. leaving Mr. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. beneath the disguise of the mess. then on his right. The sound recalled Mr.

" "Thank you. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. that there was paint on his boots.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. Things were moving. by the way." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. on returning to the house. Oh. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. Adair. He could get the ground-man's address from him. I suppose.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. Quite so. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. but I could show you in a second. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. sir. "Oh. and the ground-man came out in . on the right as you turn out into the road. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. Adair. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. Adair. Thank you. His is the first you come to. You did not do that. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. There are three in a row. I shall be able to find them. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. He rapped at the door of the first. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. There's a barn just before you get to them." he said. This was the more probable of the two contingencies." "I see. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. His book had been interesting. sir. don't get up. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. I didn't go into the shed at all. "No." "It is spilt all over the floor.

An excellent idea. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Markby." "Of course. sir. sir? No. ascertain its owner. Markby. Tell me." Mr. It was Sunday. You had better get some more to-morrow. Just as I thought. It wanted a lick of paint bad. sir?" "No. Regardless of the heat. and spilt. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. as was indeed the case. blinking as if he had just woke up. The thing had become simple to a degree. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Thank you. Markby. too. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. On the shelf at the far end. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. and denounce him to the headmaster. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. He was hot on the scent now. Outwood's house somewhere. Quite so. "Oh." "On the floor?" "On the floor. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. thank you." "Do you want it. thank you. sir.his shirt-sleeves. That is all I wished to know. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. All he had to do was to go to Mr. The fact is. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. Picture. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. sir. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. sir. yes. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. Makes it look shabby." "Just so. with the result that it has been kicked over. no.

"I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. "A warm afternoon. "I was an ass ever to try it." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. I will be with you in about two ticks. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing." murmured Psmith courteously. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room." said Mike. He is welcome to them.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. found Mr. That is to say. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. no matter. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. sir?" "Do as I tell you." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. Downing. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel." said Psmith. and said nothing. I wonder! Still. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time." said he. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value." said Mike disparagingly. "Or shall I fetch Mr. What brings him round in this direction. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. . "What the dickens. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. "There's a kid in France." snapped Mr. who had just entered the house. Outwood. "Enough of this spoolery. as he passed. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. Smith. sir. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." "With acute pleasure." "'Tis well. Downing arrived. and Psmith." Mike walked on towards the field. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. sir.

Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity." Mr. That's further down the passage. "This. sir?" he asked." said Psmith. "to keep your remarks to yourself. opening a door. Smith. The matron being out." he said. Mr. sir. "I think he's out in the field. Mr. sir. An airy room. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. sir. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles.Psmith said no more. Here we have----" Mr. "Here. Downing looked at him closely. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. . "Shall I lead the way." said Mr. "I beg your pardon. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. "we have Barnes' dormitory." he cried. Each boy. "Are you looking for Barnes." They moved on up the passage. sir." "I was only wondering. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. "Show me the next dormitory. Downing stopped short. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr." said Psmith. Downing paused. then moved on. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. "Excuse me. crimson in the face with the exercise. baffled." Mr. Smith. Downing with asperity. Mr. It is Mr. This is Barnes'. but went down to the matron's room. Downing nodded. sir? No. Psmith waited patiently by. sir. "The studies. Downing rose. "Aha!" said Psmith. panting slightly. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Smith. having examined the last bed. The master snorted suspiciously. I understand. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. An idea struck the master. The observation escaped me unawares." said Psmith. "Is this impertinence studied.

Downing suddenly started." said Mr." said Psmith. sir. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. the field." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. sir. sir. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. The cricketer. "A lovely view."Whose is this?" he asked. Smith." "I think. they go out extremely quickly. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. Smith. Smith?" "Jackson. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. "Have you no bars to your windows here. rapping a door. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. the distant hills----" Mr. "The trees. "No. sir. that Mr. Downing pondered." "Never mind about his cricket. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar." Mr. And. sir?" said Psmith." "Ah! Thank you. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. sir." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do." Mr. is mine and Jackson's. No. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. is it not. sir. even in the dusk. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. putting up his eyeglass. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . "This." "Not at all. Downing with irritation.

or it might mean that he had been out all the time. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. I believe." "Smith. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. Smith?" "Not one. Edmund. I noticed them as he went out just now. he rushed straight on. Downing. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. "We have here. "His boots. our genial knife-and-boot boy. at early dawn. "On the spot. But that there was something. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. As it was." Mr." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself." he said. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. he did not know. "I should say at a venture. "Smith!" he said excitedly. prompting these manoeuvres. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. Such a moment came to his life. sir. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. and dumped is down on the study floor. sir? He has them on. sir--no. collects them. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. Psmith leaned against the wall." said Psmith affably. "go and bring that basket to me here. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. Psmith had noticed. Mr. sir." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. Downing then. and bent once more to his task. "a fair selection of our various bootings. Boots flew about the room. he was certain. sir." said Mr." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Downing stooped eagerly over it. and straightened out the damaged garment. by a devious and snaky route. It was a fine performance. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. If he had been wise. that they would be in the basket downstairs." Mr. trembling with excitement. he would have achieved his object. sir. Downing knelt on the floor beside . Mr. Downing looked up.

sir?" "Certainly not. rose to his feet." "Shall I put back that boot." Mr. boot-maker. "No. Downing reflected. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. It was "Brown. Smith. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake." he said. Downing left the room. Thither Mr. sir. The ex-Etonian." "Come with me. "That's the lot. Bridgnorth. He knew nothing. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. The headmaster was in his garden. might be a trifle undignified. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. Leave the basket here. Downing had finished." "Shall I carry it. and. "I think it would be best. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Psmith took the boot. "Put those back again. with an exclamation of triumph. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. You can carry it back when you return. and when. began to pick up the scattered footgear. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. rising." as he did so. . Downing made his way." he said. In his hand he held a boot. "Indeed?" he said. one puts two and two together. After a moment Psmith followed him. At last he made a dive. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr.the basket. sir. of course. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. "Ah. and doing so. understood what before had puzzled him. Smith. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. sir?" Mr. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. of course. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. when Mr. Psmith looked at it again. on the following day. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. "Yes. I shall take this with me. then. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Downing." he said. carrying a dirty boot.

Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. "You must have made a mistake. Mr. sir. this boot with exactly where Mr. it was absolutely and entirely innocent." said the headmaster. Smith. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. "There was paint on this boot. "who was remarkably subject----" . as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. red or otherwise. Downing. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. These momentary optical delusions are. Downing was the first to break the silence. Smith will bear me out in this. Mr. is the--? Just so. er. not uncommon. putting on a pair of look at--This."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Mr. sir. There was no paint on this boot. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest." said Psmith chattily. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. the cynosure of all eyes. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Of any suspicion of paint." he said vehemently. Psmith. putting up his eyeglass. you say... Just. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. But." The headmaster interposed.. fixed stare. It was a broad splash right across the toe." "This is foolery. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. "now let me so. Just Mr. Downing. I fancy. I saw it with my own eyes.

If Mr. "Well. Downing. "My theory. sir?" ." "I am reading it. Downing. Downing looked searchingly at him. Mr. sir. really. "that is surely improbable. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. Shall I take the boot with me." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. "What did you say. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. sir." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. sir. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Smith. he did not look long at the boot." "Really." said Mr. I can assure you that it does not brush off." "You are very right. had not time to fade." murmured Psmith. if I may----?" "Certainly. Downing."It is absurd. Mr." said Psmith." said the headmaster. sir." "A sort of chameleon boot. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. The picture on the retina of the eye. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this." "Yes. streaming in through the window. The goaded housemaster turned on him. "My theory. Smith?" "Did I speak. I cannot have been mistaken. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. sir. Downing shortly. The afternoon sun. Downing recollects. at the moment. with simple dignity. Smith. "May I go now. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts." said Psmith with benevolent approval. is that Mr. I remember thinking myself. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own." "Exactly. Mr. sir?" said Psmith. "for pleasure. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. consequently." said the headmaster. Smith." "It is undoubtedly black now." said Psmith. "You had better be careful.

Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. if they had but known it. left the garden. Smith. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. having included both masters in a kindly smile. however. "That thing. he. On arriving at the study. he reflected. and turning in at Outwood's gate. "Sit down. Downing appeared. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. every time. he raced down the road. Put it away. with a sigh. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. "I can manage without your help. Mr." Psmith sat down again. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word." . He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. and rose to assist him. and the latter. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Smith." he said. On this occasion." said the housemaster. too. Psmith. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Downing. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Downing was brisk and peremptory. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. and Mr. "Brain. "I wish to look at these boots again. Psmith and Mike." he said. were friends. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. laid down his novel."If Mr. that ridiculous glass. and lock the cupboard. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. the spectacle of Psmith running. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. in fact the probability. Outwood's at that moment saw what. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. Without brain. "Put that thing away. The possibility. where are we? In the soup." he said to himself approvingly. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. sir?" "Yes. hurried over to Outwood's. was a most unusual sight.

This cupboard. of harbouring the quarry. after fidgeting for a few moments. but each time without success." "I was interested in what you were doing. We do not often use it. patiently. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. Possibly an old note-book. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket."Why. He went through it twice. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. and his chin on his hands. "Smith!" he said. he stood up. sir." "Open it. After the second search. sir. sir?" asked Psmith. sir?" "Yes." "May I read. "Don't sit there staring at me." "Never mind. His eye roamed about the room." "I think you will find that it is locked. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. He rested his elbows on his knees. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. sir. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. now thoroughly irritated." "Thank you." Psmith took up his book again. who. "Just a few odd trifles." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. Smith. Downing rapped the door irritably." . and looked wildly round the room. sir." Mr. on sight. "Yes. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. and Mr. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. Nothing of value or interest. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. read if you like. The floor could be acquitted. lodged another complaint. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. There was very little cover there. sir. perhaps. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot." "I guessed that that was the reason. Downing. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. A ball of string. "Yes.

sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock." "But where is the key. Mr. you must get his permission." Mr. if Smith were left alone in the room. sir. amazed. Then he was seized with a happy idea. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. Outwood. Downing thought for a moment. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. "I don't believe a word of it. Downing paused. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. sir. And he knew that. "Yes."Unlock it. "Smith. sir. "go and find Mr. And I know it's not Mr. Smith?" he inquired acidly. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. Outwood. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. and ask him to be good . staring into vacancy. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. sir. I am only the acting manager." Mr." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. perhaps----! On the other hand. Downing stared. He also reflected. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it." he said." Psmith got up. I shall break open the door." Mr. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. Smith would be alone in the room. Jackson might have taken it." he said shortly. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. Outwood. If you wish to break it open. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. But when it came to breaking up his furniture.

Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. as if he had been asked a conundrum. your word would be law." he said. "I take my stand. sir. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. sir. and come back and say to me. "Go and find Mr. I ought to have remembered that before. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. Smith. Downing's voice was steely." he said." he continued." "one cannot. I say to myself. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. 'Mr. ha. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. sir. If you will go to Mr. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. as who should say. "Yes. and explain to him how matters stand." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Outwood. "on a technical point. "Do you intend to disobey me. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. "_Quick_. I would fly to do your bidding. If you pressed a button. I would do the rest. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. Mr. Outwood at once. Outwood. "Let us be reasonable. to take a parallel case. who resumed the conversation. Outwood's house. His manner was almost too respectful. 'Psmith. But in Mr." Psmith still made no move. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. Mr. "Thwarted to me face.enough to come here for a moment. So in my case. "If you will let me explain. Smith?" Mr. Smith. One cannot. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. however." "What!" "Yes.

A shower of soot fell into the grate. Outwood. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Downing wishes me to do. "Where have you been. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. and took out the boot. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. Downing stalked out of the room. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. "I have been washing my hands." He took the key from his pocket." said Mr." "My dear Outwood." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Smith?" asked Mr. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. and with him Mr. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill." "I can assure you. When he returned. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. sir. and." added Psmith pensively to himself. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. Outwood. Outwood. Downing sharply. Downing suspiciously. "But. when it had stopped swinging. Downing was in the study. He tied the other end of the string to this.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. "Smith. he went to the window." why he should not do so if he wishes it." added Mr. He went there. and let the boot swing free. Placing this in the cupboard." "H'm!" said Mr. Outwood with spirit. at any rate. there will be a boot there when you return. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. Smith. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen." . the latter looking dazed. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. that if there is a boot in that cupboard On a level with the sill the water-pipe. and thrust it up the chimney. You see my difficulty. as the footsteps died away. Then he turned to the boot. Mr. "Yes." snapped the sleuth." Mr. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Smith. unlocked the cupboard. and washed off the soot. I shall not tell you again. sir. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. "Very well. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. He noticed with approval. he re-locked the door. blackening his hand.

Downing was examining his find. and painted my dog Sampson red. "Objection? None at all. approvingly. "We must humour him."Exactly. was open for all to view. do you understand?" Mr." "I wondered where that boot had got to. Outwood started. "I told you." he said. "Did you place that boot there. Last night a boy broke out of your house. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. "I've been looking for it for days. Mr. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. with any skeletons it might contain. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath." said Psmith." said Psmith sympathetically. Now. my dear Outwood. At any rate." he added helpfully. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. Outwood. round-eyed. Outwood with asperity. none at all. "Why?" "I don't know why. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. "This boot has no paint on it. "to be free from paint. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. Outwood. "You have touched the spot. "I told you. The wood splintered. Mr. Let me see. and tore the boot from its resting-place. Smith?" "I must have done. Downing shortly. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. glaring at Psmith. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Then. Downing uttered a cry of triumph." "He painted--!" said Mr." Mr." said Psmith." said Mr." he said. He never used them. Psmith'a expression said. sir. Downing?" interrupted Mr." "So with your permission. Downing seized one of these. sir. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. "This is not the boot." "It certainly appears. Have you any objection?" Mr. belonging to Mike. my dear fellow." "If I must explain again. The cupboard. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. he did. if you look at it sideways.

sir. But his brain was chance remark of Mr." he said. Downing's eye." Mr. It should have been done before. Downing a good." argued Psmith.") Mr. Outwood had the grate. You have done yourself no good by it. A little more. He looked up. baffled. but he ignored it. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. not to have given me all this trouble." "No. sir. Smith. nearly knocking Mr. Apply them. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. though. Mr. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. and one could imagine him giving Mr. SMITH?"] "Yes. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. and thrust an arm up into the unknown." "You would have done better. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. Smith?" he asked slowly. Unfortunately. He bent down to "Dear me. "I thought as much. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. he used the sooty hand. Downing laughed grimly. after all. Downing. "We all make mistakes." "It's been great fun.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. sir. Outwood off his feet. "Animal spirits. from earth to heaven. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. "Fun!" Mr. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. sir. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. once more. hard knock. my dear Watson. You were not quite clever enough." said Psmith patiently. and a thrill went through him. Smith. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist." he said. "Ah." said Psmith. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. "WHAT!" .

You are quite black."Animal spirits. most. of course. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. It was the knock-out. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. In the language of the Ring." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. worked in some mysterious cell." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. Psmith went to the window. You must come and wash it. "your face. you present a most curious appearance. as he had said. at the back of the house. It had been trying. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. for a man of refinement." Then he allowed Mr. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. positively. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. Edmund. Smith. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. and sponges. the boot-boy. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. and it was improbable that Mr. just as he was opening his mouth. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. sir. at about the same height where Mr. Outwood. intervened. It seemed to him that. He went down beneath it. far from the madding crowd." he said." What Mr. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. he went up to the study again. "I say you will hear more of it. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. Downing had found the other. For." said Psmith. soap. Mr. Let me show you the way to my room. It would take a lot of cleaning. * * * * * When they had gone. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. . though one can guess roughly." he said. and it had cut into his afternoon. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. he saw. he took the count. "You will hear more of this. His fears were realised. Really. It is positively covered with soot. The boot-cupboard was empty. sir. my dear fellow. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. for the time being. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. until he should have thought out a scheme. "My dear Downing. Having restored the basket to its proper place. and hauled in the string. Mr. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. quite covered. but on the whole it had been worth it. accordingly.

which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not." he said. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed." "Well. sir. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. for instance. There is no real reason why. if he does. So Psmith kept his own counsel. "Well. Mr. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. there's the bell. "'Ere's one of 'em. So in the case of boots. I mean--Oh. Jackson. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. thank goodness. if the day is fine." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. Jackson. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. had no views on the subject. But. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. but. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. the thing creates a perfect sensation. "I may have lost a boot." replied Edmund to both questions. "Jones. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. to be gained from telling Mike. Boys say. and then said. "No. "One? What's the good of that. I can still understand sound reasoning. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . It was not altogether forgetfulness. should he prefer them. he should not wear shoes. dash it. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. Edmund. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. Mr. Psmith was no exception to the rule. which one observes naturally and without thinking. There was nothing. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found." as much as to say. At a school. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. "Great Scott. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn." Edmund turned this over in his mind. Edmund. he thought.

he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. They cannot see it. turning to Stone. of a vivid crimson. looking on them. accordingly." mechanically. yes. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. leaning back against the next row of desks. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. sir. but they feel it in their bones. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. Mr." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. lines. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. Then. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. sir?" said Mike. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. and the form. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. On one occasion.. sir. Downing who gave trouble. or else to pull one of them off. called his name. Downing. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. "I have lost one of my boots. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. with a few exceptions. had regarded Mike with respect. Stone.. was taken unawares. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. It was only Mr. as he usually did. and finally "That will do.. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. Downing's lips." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . abuse. He said "Yes. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. as worms. stiffening like a pointer. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. Mike. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. "Yes. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. But. Jackson?" "Pumps. he told him to start translating. and the subsequent proceedings. Satire. he floundered hopelessly.

" said Stone. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. They played well enough when on the field. Mike's appearance in shoes. In view of the M. "It's all rot. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. Until the sun has really got to work.C. Rushing about on an empty stomach. Downing feel at that moment." "I shouldn't wonder. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. and no strain. jumping on board. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. match on the Wednesday." . with the explanation that he had lost a boot. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. consequently. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. however. Mike himself. and the first American interviewer. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. compared with Mike's. "Wal. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast." "Personally. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. yawning and heavy-eyed. His case was complete. sir. came to a momentous decision. "I don't intend to stick it. he gathered up his gown. Mr." said Stone. it is no joke taking a high catch. As a rule. gnawing his bun." said Robinson. I mean. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. and sped to the headmaster. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. that searching test of cricket keenness. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling.C. which nobody objects to. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. in the cool morning air. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. completed the chain. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. to wit. and all that sort of thing. said. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. Downing's mind was in a whirl.returned.

then he finds himself in a difficult position. what can he do. questioned on the subject. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. The majority." Their position was a strong one. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. leaving the two malcontents speechless. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere.C. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. practically helpless. who his right. With the majority." "I mean. Stone was the first to recover. Taking it all round. Barnes was among those present. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. consequently. At breakfast that morning thought. but in reality he has only one weapon. "He can do what he likes about it. Besides. The result of all this was that Adair. Downing."Nor do I. with a scratch team. of course.C. and the chance of making runs greater. after all? Only kick us out of the team." he said. Barnes. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. found himself two short." he said briskly. If he does. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. as they left the shop. And I don't mind that. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. "at six. wherever and however made. either. He can't play the M. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. are easily handled. "Rather." "I don't think he will kick us out. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. You were rotten to-day. Which was not a great help." "Yes. unless he is a man of action. "Let's." "Nor do I. Stone and Robinson felt secure." said Robinson. had no information to give." "All right." And he passed on. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. Mr. you know. the keenness of those under him. You two must buck up." At this moment Adair came into the shop. it's such absolute rot. and. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. he'd better find somebody else.

He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States." Adair's manner became ominously calm. "We didn't turn up. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. "You were rather fed-up. He resolved to interview the absentees." said Stone. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. however. Stone spoke. Many captains might have passed the thing over. who. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. Adair!" "Don't mention it. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. said nothing. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. He never shirked anything. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. I suppose?" "That's just the word. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects." he said. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. To-day. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. "Hullo." Robinson laughed appreciatively." "Oh?" "Yes." "It didn't. not having seen the paper. physical or moral. "Sorry. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. ." "Sorry it bored you. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain.daily paper before the bell rang. "We decided not to. "I know you didn't. We didn't give it the chance to. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk.

We've told you we aren't going to. I think you are. you're going to to-morrow morning." said the junior partner in the firm. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. Adair. as you seem to like lying in bed." "That's only your opinion." "That'll be a disappointment. He was up again in a moment." "You don't think there is? You may be right. "Right. and was standing in the middle of the open space. if you like. Of course. Robinson?" asked Adair." "Good. "There's no joke. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." "Well." said Adair quietly. Don't be late. "I wasn't ready. You won't find me there. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. You must see that you can't do anything. Shall we go on?" ." "You can turn out if you feel like it. you can kick us out of the team. Adair. So we're all right." "Don't be an ass. Nor Robinson?" "No. but we don't care if you do. "It's no good making a row about it." said Stone." "What!" "Six sharp. but he said it without any deep conviction." said Robinson. and knocked him down." said Stone. with some haste." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No." Stone intervened." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. you are now. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. Adair had pushed the table back. We'll play for the school all right. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. "You cad. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes."What's the joke. "I was only thinking of something. All the same. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. I'll give you till five past six.

He was not altogether a coward. How about you. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. "All right." said Adair." "Good. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table." said Stone.Stone dashed in without a word. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. "Thanks. "I'll turn up. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show." "I'll go and see. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. "Thanks. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. I don't know if he's still there. "All right. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . but he was cooler and quicker." said Adair. even in a confined space. "You don't happen to know if he's in." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone." he said hastily. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. But science tells. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator." Stone made no reply." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. and he knew more about the game." said Adair. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute.

" he said. In fact. which had been ebbing during the past few days. looking up from his paper. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. A broken arm. Which. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. was hard lines on Ripton. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. The M. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. Altogether. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. when his resentment was at its height. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. led by Mike's brother Reggie.C. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. was off. said Strachan. It might have made all the difference. This was one of them. Psmith was the first to speak. "If you ask my candid opinion. fortunately.. returned with a rush. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. In school cricket one good batsman. and went on reading. that Adair. Since this calamity.C. The Incogs. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. including Dixon. * * * * * Psmith. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. Mike mourned over his suffering school. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. everything had gone wrong. entered the room. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. the fast bowler. The Ripton match. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. And it was at this point. wrote Strachan. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. He's had a .on below stairs. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. If only he could have been there to help. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth.

" "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice.C. The fact that the M." he said." "That. "is right. dark circles beneath my eyes. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. I thought that you and he were like brothers." said Psmith. but it was pretty lively while it did. We must Do It Now. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. Stone chucked it after the first round." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. Speed is the key-note of the present age. sitting before you." said Adair grimly. Shakespeare. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. Despatch." Psmith turned away. "It didn't last long. "I'm not the man I was. Adair. "Surely. "We weren't exactly idle." said Psmith approvingly." said Adair." Mike got up out of his chair. It won't take long. go thee. He could not quite follow what all this was about. after a prolonged inspection. "has led your footsteps to the right place. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson." "Fate. too." . We must be strenuous. I'll none of thee. We would brood. We must hustle. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. "Certainly. We----" "Buck up. That is Comrade Jackson. Oh." said Mike. the Pride of the School." said Psmith. Promptitude. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. the poacher. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner.C. which might possibly be made dear later. Leave us. I bet Long Jack. This is no time for loitering. For some reason. "I'll tell you in a minute. Care to see the paper." said Adair. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. knave. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." "What do you want?" said Mike. "There are lines on my face. is waiting there with a sandbag. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." he sighed. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. Adair was looking for trouble. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school.

"I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit.C. So is Robinson.C. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. to-morrow." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. and Adair looked at Mike. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. I know." added Adair. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "it's too late to alter that now. . "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.C. Mike said nothing. "I get thinner and thinner. "are a bit close together. turning to Mike. rather. Mike looked at Adair." Mike took another step forward." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." replied Adair with equal courtesy. "I am." said Psmith regretfully. However. He said he wouldn't. There was an electric silence in the study. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. are you?" said Mike politely. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. You aren't building on it much. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another." "My eyes. "Oh?" said Mike at last." Mike remained silent. He's going to all right. and I want you to get some practice. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning." "I don't think so. Adair moved to meet him. isn't it?" "Very. stepped between them.C. "So are you. so we argued it out. "I'm going to make you.?" he asked curiously. and in that second Psmith. turning from the glass." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M.said Adair." he added philosophically.

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. as a rule. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. where you can scrap all night if you want to. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. only a few yards down the road. I suppose you must. one was probably warmly attached to him. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. I lodge a protest. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. If Adair had kept away and used his head. hates the other." After which. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. "will be of three minutes' duration. In an ordinary contest with the gloves." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. On the present occasion. But school fights. If you really feel that you want to scrap. what would have been. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. . But when you propose to claw each other in my study. producing a watch. In a boxing competition. I don't want all the study furniture smashed." said Mike. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. without his guiding hand. The latter was a clever boxer. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. Dramatically. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays." he said. one does not dislike one's opponent. In a fight each party. "My dear young friends. nothing could have prevented him winning. It was this that saved Mike. however much one may want to win. and are consequently brief and furious. with a minute rest in between. Time. Smith. "The rounds. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate."Get out of the light. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. Directly Psmith called "time. a mere unscientific scramble. Are you ready." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. Up to the moment when "time" was called. then. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club." he said placidly.

It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. You go away and pick flowers. "_He's_ all right. I think. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. I shouldn't stop. I'll look after him. "Brief. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. In the excitement of a fight--which is. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like.As it was. after all. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. but Jackson. he threw away his advantages. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. Mike could not see this. and. He got up slowly and with difficulty. Jackson. but with all the science knocked out of him. He went in at Mike with both hands." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. so he hit out with all his strength. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. Then he lurched forward at Mike. Psmith saw. There was a swift exchange of blows. the deliverer of knock-out blows. Mike Jackson. "but exciting. . thirty seconds from the start. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. to him in a fresh and pleasing light." "Is he hurt much. that there was something to be said for his point of view. was strange to him. do you think?" asked Mike. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be." said Psmith. as anybody looking on would have seen. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. the cricketer. The Irish blood in him. and he was all but knocked out." said Psmith. however. and then Adair went down in a heap. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. He rose full of fight. if I were you. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. We may take that. If it's going to be continued in our next. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. now rendered him reckless. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. which would do him no earthly good. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. This finished Adair's chances. At the same time. The feat presented that interesting person. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. that Adair was done. he knew. Mike had the greater strength. coming forward. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see.

Jones. if possible. It shook him up.C. before. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. not afraid of work. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. We have been chatting. You didn't." continued Psmith. when Psmith entered the study. As a start. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off." said Mike indignantly. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity.The fight." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. Psmith straightened his tie. He had come to this conclusion. had the result which most fights have. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. "Look here. after much earnest thought. My eloquence convinced him. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough." said Mike. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. Where. It's not a bad idea in its way. There was a pause. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. but every one to his taste." he said.' game. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. He's not a bad cove.C. in fact. "Sha'n't play. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. However." "He's all right. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. and drained the bad blood out of him. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. to return to the point under discussion. why not?" . of course?" "Of course not. to a certain extent.

Last year." "----Dismiss it. but look here." "Quite right. I hate to think. and after a while I gave up the struggle. little by little. breathing on a coat-button. _I_ am playing. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. What Comrade Outwood will say. when I came here. I fought against it. I do. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. "If your trouble is." said Psmith. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. Comrade Jackson. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices." "No." "You wrong me. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. bar rotting. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so." "You're rotting. "my secret sorrow. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system." Mike stared. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. that I had found a haven of rest. "You're what? You?" "I. You said you only liked watching it. However----" ." said Psmith. Smith. But when the cricket season came. And in time the thing becomes a habit. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. and drifted with the stream. I did think. where was I? Gone. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. but it was useless. I turn out to-morrow." said Psmith. and polishing it with his handkerchief. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. but it was not to be.

And they had both worked it off. But. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. If Psmith. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. which had been gathering all day. Here was he. Psmith whimsically.C. A moment later there was a continuous patter. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn." On arriving at Mr. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. broke in earnest. Anyhow. "By Jove. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. He's not playing against the M. He's sprained his wrist. He was not by nature intuitive. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. Downing's and going to Adair's study.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. but useless to anybody who values life." he said. It's nothing bad. it went. as the storm. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. A spot of rain fell on his hand. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. the recalcitrant. wavering on the point of playing for the school." he said to himself. Close the door gently after you. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop.C. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. Mike turned up his coat-collar. Adair won't be there himself. therefore. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. I'll write a note to Adair now. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. "if you're playing. Then in a flash Mike understood. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. "there won't be a match at all . Since the term began. and here was Psmith. You won't have to. I'll go round. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do." "That's all right. and ran back to Outwood's. "At this rate." "Not a bad scheme. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven." "I say. but he read Psmith's mind now. I don't know. I'll play.

and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. "About nine to. They walked on in silence." Another silence. to show what it can do in another direction." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. I should think." "Yes. while figures in mackintoshes. We've got plenty of time. with discoloured buckskin boots. So do I." * * * * * When the weather after behaving well for some weeks." "Beastly nuisance when one does." "Good. Mike. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping." "I hate having to hurry over to school. Might be three. and then the rain began again. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. in the gentle." "So do I. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. damp and depressed. if one didn't hurry. Three if one didn't hurry. These moments are always difficult. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. it does the thing thoroughly. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "I often do cut it rather fine. . "It's only about ten to. met Adair at Downing's gate. "Right ho!" said Adair. though. Adair fished out his watch. isn't it?" said Mike." "Oh. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. yes. shuffling across to school in a Burberry." "Yes." "Yes. crawl miserably about the field in couples." "Beastly.

" "Does it hurt?" "Oh." . just before the match. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. "I don't know. I should think he'd be a hot bowler.." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. "Rotten." "Oh." "Oh. It looks pretty bad.. rather not." "Yes. with his height.." said Mike.. no. probably. scowling at his toes." "Oh. that's all right. rot." "Oh. no. It was only right at the end.. "I say." said Adair. Jolly hard luck."Beastly day. thanks.. You'd have smashed me anyhow. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "Good. Adair produced his watch once more." "What's the time?" asked Mike. rot. "Five to. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week.. I say. that's all right. I say. "awfully sorry about your wrist." Silence again." "We've heaps of time." "Yes.." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "I bet you I shouldn't. we ought to have a jolly good season.." "Rummy." "Oh. It was my fault." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. no. Less. doesn't it?" "Rotten." "I bet you anything you like you would. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.

" "He never even asked me to get him a place. I know."Yes. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. Smith told me you couldn't have done. rotten little hole. even if he had. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. I know." Adair shuffled awkwardly. fortunately. "What rot!" he said. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. after the way you've sweated." "No." "It was rotten enough. as it were: for now. that's all right." "I didn't want to play myself. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. Everybody's as keen as blazes. no. isn't it?" or words to that effect. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." "Of course. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness." "No. . Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. "Yes. heaps. for the second time in two days. no." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. So they ought to be. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment." "Of course not. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh." "Oh. Mike. really. on the Chinese principle. It was only for a bit. "I say. I wouldn't have done it. and come to a small school like this. He eluded the pitfall. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. not playing myself.

I'm not sure that I care much. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. They began to laugh. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. so I don't see anything of him all day. and the bowling isn't so bad."I've always been fairly keen on the place. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. I must have looked rotten. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn.C. Dash this rain. of anything like it. As you're crocked. when you get to know him. and really. because I'm certain. they're worse. I don't know which I'd least soon be. and hang about in case." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. Downing or a black-beetle. As for the schools." "I don't know that so much. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. "_You_ were all right. We'd better be moving on. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. which won't hurt me. My jaw still aches." he said." said Mike. who doesn't count. with you and Smith. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. "By jove." "It might clear before eleven." "What! They wouldn't play us. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing.C. at the interval. We've got math." Mike stopped. "if that's any comfort to you. Hullo." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. If only we could have given this M. There's quite decent batting all the way through." said Adair. anyhow. You'd better get changed. now that you and Smith are turning out. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. We sha'n't get a game to-day. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. I've never had the gloves on in my life. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. till the interval." "All right. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. then." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. They'd simply laugh at you. You see. we'd walk into them. lot a really good hammering. I wish we could play. I never thought of it before." . "I can't have done. with a grin. there's the bell. we've got a jolly hot lot. and it would be rather rot playing it without you.

regretfully agreed. We'll smash them. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon."Yes. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. edge away.C. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. I'm pretty sure they would. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. approaching Adair. "this incessant demand for you. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. The two teams. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. And they aren't strong this year. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. and went off. "By Jove. captain. were met by a damp junior from Downing's.C. The messenger did not know. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. yesterday. 'Psmith is baffled. M. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh." said Psmith. after hanging about dismally. wandering back to the house. If he wants you to stop to tea. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it.C. was agitated. they would. Meanwhile. Mike and Psmith. At least. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. That's the worst of being popular." Mike changed quickly. For the moment I am baffled. leaving Psmith. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. match was accordingly scratched. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness.'" . lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. if you like. it seemed.C. he worked at it both in and out of school. I had a letter from Strachan. had not confided in him. with a message that Mr. and the first Sedleigh _v_. Mike. "A nuisance. Downing. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. the captain. To which Adair." said Psmith. Mr. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. and would be glad if Mike would step across." he said at last. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. After which the M. without looking up. You come and have a shot. So they've got a vacant date. The whisper flies round the clubs. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night.

" "_Did_ you." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. "I didn't. pretty nearly." said Mike shortly. "Which it was." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. dash it." "I know. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. I believe he's off his nut. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. he's been crawling about. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. . "Me." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut." said Psmith." "He thinks I did it. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. Give you a nice start in life." "Evidence!" said Mike. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. "My dear man." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. The thing's a stand-off."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." said Mike warmly. by the way?" asked Psmith. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. He as good as asked me to. you know all about that. "No. But. As far as I can see.

" "I don't know what the game is. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. . meaning to save you unpleasantness." said Psmith. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. That's how he spotted me. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. and glared at it." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. "It _is_." said Mike. "Say on!" "Well." he said mournfully. sickening thud. with a dull. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. It must have been the paint-pot. Psmith listened attentively. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. and it's nowhere about. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. it was like this. "your boot. Get it over. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. But what makes him think that the boot. and reach up the chimney." "Yes. I have landed you. Be a man. but one's being soled. kneeling beside the fender and groping. right in the cart. "Comrade Jackson. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. In my simple zeal." Psmith sighed. you were with him when he came and looked for them. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. so he thinks it's me." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone." said Psmith. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint.Why. Of course I've got two pairs. and is hiding it somewhere. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. if any." "It is true. 'tis not blood. It is red paint." said Psmith. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender.

If I can't produce this boot." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. and he said very well. so to speak. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. you see. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. I take it. or some rot. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. Masters are all whales on confession. So. "It _is_ a tightish place. then. he must take steps. You had better put the case in my hands. I say." "I suppose not." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. That was why I rang the alarm bell." he said. You never know. that he is now on the war-path." "Sufficient. Downing chased me that night. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. and the chap who painted Sammy. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers." "Probably." "Possibly." "Well. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. inspecting it with disfavour." "What exactly. when Mike had finished." said Mike. taking it all round. I hope you'll be able to think of something. in connection with this painful affair. I suppose not. too. "quite sufficient. too. I shall get landed both ways. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. This needs thought. "Not for a pretty considerable time." asked Psmith. and try to get something out of me."This. in a moment of absent-mindedness. and--well. are the same. and I said I didn't care. I will think over the matter. I _am_ in the cart." said Psmith. The worst of it is. you can't prove an alibi. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. and forgot all about it? No? No. You see. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it." . "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. collecting a gang. they're bound to guess why. then." "_He'll_ want you to confess. I hadn't painted his bally dog. was it?" "Yes." Psmith pondered. I can't. which was me. that was about all. by any chance." he admitted.

Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. and requested to wait. "Well. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. and. Stout denial is the thing." He turned to the small boy. Simply stick to stout denial. "Don't go. "An excellent likeness. passed away. He was. "They now knock before entering. "Tell him to write. it seemed. "Is Mr. he allowed Mike to go on his way. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage." "I told you so. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you.There was a tap at the door." said Psmith. . Don't go in for any airy explanations. who had leaned back in his chair. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. at the same dignified rate of progress. "Just you keep on saying you're all right." he said. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. "All this is very trying." he added. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. The postman was at the door when he got there." said Psmith. wrapped in thought. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. sir. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. Downing shortly. "that Mr. He had not been gone two minutes. when the housemaster came in. Thence." "Ha!" said Mr." said Psmith." The emissary departed. You can't beat it. He was examining a portrait of Mr. Come in. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. heaved himself up again. Smith. who had just been told it was like his impudence. "Tell Willie. Jackson will be with him in a moment." said Psmith encouragingly." said Mike to Psmith. sir." suggested Psmith. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. answered the invitation. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. "_You're_ all right." said Mr. "Oh." A small boy. Jackson. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. I say." Mike got up. "See how we have trained them. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. when Psmith. caught sight of him. Downing. Downing which hung on the wall." With which expert advice.

As it happened. Jackson." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. Masters. The atmosphere was heavy. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. what it got was the dramatic interruption. Downing had laid before him. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. sir. Downing to see you. It was a kid's trick. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. "I would not have interrupted you. He could not believe it." said Mr. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. but boys nearly always do. "but----" "Not at all. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. would have thought it funny at first. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. felt awkward." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. who committed the--who painted my dog. it was not Jackson. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. As for Psmith . but anybody. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. "I do not think you fully realise. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. unsupported by any weighty evidence. with a summary of the evidence which Mr." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. sir." said Psmith. After the first surprise. Mr. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. especially if you really are innocent. "Mr. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative."I did it. do not realise this. The headmaster was just saying. It was a boy in the same house. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. A voice without said. as he sat and looked at Mike. and the headmaster. Downing. Downing. except possibly the owner of the dog. as a rule. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Smith. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. "No. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult.

as if he had been running." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. He did not make friends very quickly or easily." said the headmaster. sir." said Mr. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Downing. It was Adair. who was nodding from time to time." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. "Certainly. Mr. what did you wish to say. or even thankful. Well. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Jackson. "Ah. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. Downing was saying. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. "May I go. looking at Mr. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed." he said. Adair. "Adair!" . He sat there. Mike simply did not believe it. "Come in. sir. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. if you are going back to your house. "Yes. This was bound to mean the sack. Mike felt. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. Mr. Adair. with calm triumph. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. sir. hardly listening to what Mr. Downing----" "It was Dunster." "No. So Mr. when again there was a knock. sir?" he said. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Downing leaped in his chair. if possible. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. "Smith!" said the headmaster. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. certainly. sir. and er--.having done it." said the Head." "Yes." He had reached the door. no. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Downing. "Oh. we know--.

sir. I tried to find Mr. sir. Downing had gone over to see you. "Yes. but not particularly startling. His brain was swimming. should be innocent. I'd better tell Mr. That Mike. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. perhaps. had left the school at Christmas. Downing's voice was thunderous." Mr. had played a mean trick on him. Why Dunster. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. despite the evidence against him." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read." "I see. sir." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy." said the headmaster. He has left the school. the dog. of all people? Dunster. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. that Psmith. He rolled about. "But Adair." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes." "Smith told you?" said Mr. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. too. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. sir.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. he remembered dizzily. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. He stopped the night in the village. Well. Downing at once. sir. and that. sir. sir. was guiltless. It was a ." "_Laughed!_" Mr. two minutes after Mr. was curious. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. "Yes. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. for a rag--for a joke. if Dunster had really painted the dog. And why. "Adair!" "Yes. sir. Downing. and he told me that Mr. Downing." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. Downing snorted. sir. Then I met Smith outside the house. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. who. in the words of an American author. but he wasn't in the house. But that Adair should inform him.

" "Another freak of Dunster's. He arrived soon after Mr. sir." "Thank you. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. Smith is waiting in the hall. Ask him to step up." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. while it lasted." "Yes. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. . Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. as the butler appeared. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. saying that he would wait. "kindly go across to Mr. Mr." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. sir. "It is still raining. Smith. but. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. sir. Adair. Barlow." said Mr. "You wished to see me. Barlow. "I shall write to him. though sure of his welcome. as you would probably wish to see him shortly." he said." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. Downing. Downing. It was not long. discreditable thing to have done. feels that some slight apology is expected from him." "If you please. He gave the impression of one who." "H'm." said Mr. sir?" "Sit down." "In the hall!" "Yes. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. the silence was quite solid." he observed. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. I suppose." "The sergeant. Outwood's house.foolish. "Mr. but slightly deprecating. sir. The door was opened. sir." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. If he did not do it. sir. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. He was cheerful." said the headmaster. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. pressing a bell. Smith." said the headmaster. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men.

Then he went on." he said. sir. sir. He paused again. "The craze for notoriety. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. but have you--er. let us say." ." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. "how frequently. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair.Mr. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. sir. "Er--Smith. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. sir." "Yes. when a murder has been committed. "Er--Smith. "It is remarkable. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. "----This is a most extraordinary affair." He made a motion towards the door. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." proceeded Psmith placidly. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. Mr. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson." "What!" cried the headmaster. do you remember ever having had. "Smith. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. as a child. there was silence. When he and Psmith were alone. "The curse of the present age." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. "Smith." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so." he replied sadly." "But. "Smith. Smith--" began the headmaster. Jackson. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. Downing burst out.

as he walked downstairs.." There was a pause. it was like this. if you do not wish it. sir----" Privately. Downing's dog. let me hear what you wish to course. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. You think." said Psmith. sir.. tell nobody. of sometimes apt to forget. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. Smith. sir. "Well?" said Mike. sir." said Psmith cheerfully. This is strictly between ourselves. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list." He held out his hand.. "It was a very wrong thing to do. and then I tore myself away. "Good-night." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know.." said the headmaster hurriedly. We later. "What's he done?" "Nothing.. at last. "Not a bad old sort. "You _are_ the limit. Smith. quite so. "Of course." said the headmaster." "Well. We had a very pleasant chat. You are a curious boy. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. but he said nothing. For the moment. Good-night. "By no means a bad old sort. "Well. the proper relations boy and--Well." said Psmith meditatively to himself. then. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. never mind that for the present." "I think you are existing between can return to it say." . the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting.. I shall. "but." said Adair. sir. Smith. Of course." said Psmith. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. That was the whole thing. of course." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Smith. sir.

for it was a one day match. had only to play out time to make the game theirs."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. when you see him. "And it was jolly good of you. too." Psmith moaned. "Good-night. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. and things were going badly for Sedleigh." Psmith's expression was one of pain." said Mike. "By the way. "you wrong me." said Mike obstinately. and that Sedleigh had lost. chuck it. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. There is a certain type of . you're a marvel. In a way one might have said that the game was over. "They've got a vacant date. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner." said he. and Wrykyn. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. Adair. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's." "What's that?" asked Psmith. I hope the dickens they'll do it. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." "Well. who had led on the first innings. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." said Adair. Psmith." said Adair. I'm surprised at you. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. "my very best love. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." said Mike suddenly." said Psmith." said Mike." "Oh." "And give Comrade Downing." * * * * * "I say." "Well. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. I should think they're certain to. "My dear Comrade Jackson. They walked on towards the houses. I believe you did. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. Psmith thanked him courteously. all the same. You make me writhe. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh.

The weather had been bad for the last week. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little.C. declined to hit out at anything. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. Adair did not suffer from panic. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. Experience counts enormously in school matches. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. playing back to half-volleys. Wrykyn had then gone in. Unless the first pair make a really good batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. and he used it. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. a collapse almost invariably ensues. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. whatever might happen to the others. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. this in itself was a calamity. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. He had had no choice but to take first innings. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Psmith. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. and. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. July the twentieth. that Wrykyn were weak this season. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. with Barnes not out sixteen. Mike. crawled to the wickets. with his score at thirty-five. assisted by Barnes. with the exception of Adair.C. as he did repeatedly. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Stone. but were not comforted. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. the Wrykyn slow bowler. Robinson. It was likely to get worse during the day. as a rule. the team had been all on the jump. and Mike. and the others. He had an enormous reach. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. the bulwark of the side. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Ten minutes later the innings was over. several of them. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. The team listened. for seventy-nine. and . and were clean bowled. on Mike's authority. Whereas Wrykyn. had played inside one from Bruce. and from whom. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. from time immemorial. Sedleigh. but then Wrykyn cricket. and he had fallen after hitting one four. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. Sedleigh had never been proved. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. so Adair had chosen to bat first.

was getting too dangerous. restored to his proper frame of mind. It doesn't help my . But Adair and Psmith. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. So Drummond and Rigby. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. had never been easy. proceeded to play with caution. A quarter past six struck. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. And when. and after him Robinson and the rest. The deficit had been wiped off. skied one to Strachan at cover. As is usual at this stage of a match. at any rate. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. helped by the wicket. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. his slows playing havoc with the tail. but it was a comfort. when Psmith was bowled. But. their nervousness had vanished. if they could knock Bruce off. at fifteen. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. Adair declared the innings closed. especially Psmith. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. having another knock. with an hour all but five minutes to go. the next pair. As Mike reached the pavilion. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. and refused to hit at the bad. all but a dozen runs. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. and lashed out stoutly. Seventeen for three. And when Stone came in. He treated all the bowlers alike. who had just reached his fifty. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. as they were crossing over. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. Psmith got the next man stumped. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. two runs later. Adair bowled him. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. and he was convinced that. who had taken six wickets. The time was twenty-five past five. And they had hit. and which he hit into the pavilion. Changes of bowling had been tried. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. which was Psmith's. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. they felt. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. They were playing all the good balls. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. and the collapse ceased.

Incidentally. got to it as he was falling." said Psmith." "I suppose they will. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. I'm glad we won. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. the great thing. and it'll make him happy for weeks. "Still. and chucked it up." said Mike. was a shade too soon. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way." "Yes. and Mike. you see." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. Sedleigh was on top again. The batsman. he's satisfied. "he was going about in a sort of trance. After that the thing was a walk-over. when Adair took the ball from him. Wrykyn will swamp them. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. I shall have left. playing against Wrykyn. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. hitting out. Adair's a jolly good sort. is to get the thing started. Five minutes before. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. That's what Adair was so keen on." said Psmith." "He bowled awfully well.leg-breaks a bit. diving to the right. collapsed uncompromisingly. and the tail. As a matter of fact. They can get on fixtures with decent . because they won't hit at them. "I say. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. discussing things in general and the game in particular. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. There were twenty-five minutes to go. and five wickets were down. "I feel like a beastly renegade. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. Adair will have left. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. Still.

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. unless you receive specific permission. Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House. by using or distributing this work . reports. Wodehouse *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE *** ***** This file should be named 7423-8. Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark.gutenberg. Shall we stagger?" They staggered. "in an emergency they can always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them. Shell.clubs." said Psmith. With thanks to Amherst College Library. reflectively." "And. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license. and it would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. and work up to playing the big schools. You've got to start somehow. G. especially commercial redistribution. performances and research. Jim Produced by Suzanne L. by P. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works. and may not be used if you charge for the ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. complying with the rules is very easy. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. Special rules.txt or 7423-8. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works. you see. what? Let us now sally out and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works. So it's all right. besides. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike.

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